Knowing what to do in the event of a fire is particularly important for older adults. At age 65, people are twice as likely to be killed or injured in a fire when compared to the population at large. Decreased mobility, health, sight and hearing may limit a person's ability to take the quick action necessary to escape during a fire emergency. Depending on physical limitations, many protective actions may require help from a caregiver, neighbor, or outside source. So whether the seniors in your life are living independently or in a care facility, there are steps they can take to remain safe from a fire.
- If your parent is in the early stages of dementia and lives alone, alert the fire department ahead of time to their special needs.
- Install a smoke alarm on every level of the home. Test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them once a year
- Develop and practice a home fire escape plan- check all exits to make sure wheelchairs or walkers can get through the doorways. Make any necessary accommodations (such as installation of exit ramps) to facilitate an emergency escape.
- Stay connected- Keep a telephone nearby, along with emergency phone numbers so that your loved one can communicate with emergency personnel if trapped in their room by fire or smoke.
- In the kitchen, don't leave food unattended on the stove and be certain to clean the stove and toaster regularly to avoid grease and crumb buildup
- Unplug electrical appliances and heaters when not in use
You can also download some great materials to help develop a fire escape plan and more from the US Fire Administration's website.