Fire Prevention: What to Know to Keep Seniors Safe

fire-safetyIf you are a Michigan caregiver for a senior loved one who lives alone, safety is probably an ongoing concern. One area you may not have considered is fire safety. What might surprise you is how much higher the risk is that an older adult will be harmed or fatally injured in a fire.Seniors are at two times greater risk and those over the age of 85 have almost five times higher risk. So while elders make up only 13% of the nation’s population, 35% of the deaths caused by fires are seniors.

In honor of National Fire Prevention Awareness Week, we wanted to share a few tips for keeping the senior you love safe.

5 Fire Safety Tips for Seniors in Michigan

  1. Limit the use of extension cords. Older homes often have fewer electrical outlets than new homes. In today’s high-tech society, it often leads to greater use of extension cords. Not only do they increase the odds a senior might trip over one and fall, they also increase the risk for a fire.
  2. Use space heaters with caution. Older adults who always feel cold commonly use space heaters in bedrooms, living rooms, and bathrooms. Make sure to read the label for any restrictions. Among other warnings, most require at least a clearance of three feet on all sides to avoid the risk of a fire.
  3. Create a safe kitchen. More home fires begin in the kitchen than any other room. Cooking is the primary cause. Remind your aging loved one to stay in the kitchen when they have a pot on the stove or to set a timer to remind them something is cooking. They should also avoid wearing tops with loose-fitting sleeves that can brush against a burner and ignite. Fire prevention experts also recommend keeping a small, easy-to-operate fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
  4. Working smoke detectors. There should be at least one smoke detector on every floor of the home. Test batteries three or four times a year to be certain they are working. If your senior loved one lives with hearing loss, you can install smoke detectors that use a strobe light to flash a warning alert. Some models also shake the bed in case the senior is sleeping and doesn’t hear or see the alert.
  5. Develop an emergency exit plan. Having an escape plan and practicing it is another good tip. Older adults often have slower reflexes and mobility challenges. Practicing how they would escape if a fire breaks out can save precious time in an emergency.

To learn more about fire prevention for seniors, download this free Fire Safety Checklist developed by FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration.