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Fire Safety for Senior Citizens

May 20, 2019 by Total Fire and Safety

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With the rise in popularity and construction of senior living centers, fire safety continues to be a concern to keep our grandparents, parents, and aging loved ones protected. According to the United States Fire Administration, in 2015, older adults represented 15 percent of the U.S. population and suffered 40 percent of all fire related deaths.  They are also 2.7 times greater risk of dying in a fire than the total population.  Those 85 and older were 3.8 times more likely to die in a fire than the total population.

The elderly in multi-level dwellings are at higher risk of dying in a fire for several reasons.  They may be on medication that impairs them from taking stairs down to safety, or their mobility issues may prevent them from moving quickly enough. They may live alone or have no one to call for assistance. Educating property managers, caretakers, and the elderly on fire safety for senior citizens is one step we can take in protecting this aging generation.  Below are some considerations for property managers and their tenants.

 1. Test Smoke Alarms

Smoke is a silent killer.  Senior citizens with hearing problems who sleep without a hearing aid could be killed in their sleep.  Having a working smoke alarm in every room and hallway helps, but they should be effective for the user. Strobe alarms are best, and seniors can install alarms that shake their bed to rouse them in the event of a fire. Most importantly of all, make sure to test smoke alarms every month so they are always in compliance.

2.  Sit Your Butt Down…in the proper place!

Smoking is the number one cause of fire deaths in the country. Remind senior citizens never to smoke in bed and especially not near flammable oxygen tanks. Seniors can use deeper or heavier ashtrays to avoid ashes flipping or falling onto the rug and starting a fire. The best way to put butts out is with sand and water.

3. Create a Fire Escape Plan

Seniors may have less than three minutes to escape danger in the event of a fire. They should have a fire escape plan and practice it, knowing all the accessible exits. For seniors suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s who have escape proof doors, it is important they have a prearranged escort in the event of a fire.

4. Stay in the Kitchen

Seniors should always stay in the kitchen when cooking.  Most kitchen fires begin because food is left unattended, so if they must leave the kitchen while cooking they should turn the burner off. Even a short absence from the kitchen can unexpectedly turn into an extended amount of time away.  If seniors must leave the kitchen, they should take a cooking utensil or potholder with them to serve a helpful reminder. Also, remind seniors to never cook with loose or dangling sleeves that can easily ignite and burn a senior, or potentially start a major fire.

5. Daily Necessities

Seniors should think about what they use to get around every day, like glasses, a wheelchair, a cane, etc. These items should be placed next to the bed for easy access in case of fire. A phone and a whistle should also be at bedside. The whistle lets people know where you are and enables you to warn others of the fire. Escape is always the priority; call the fire department later. If trapped, use the phone to call for help. Seniors with wheelchairs or walkers should check exit routes ahead of time to be sure they are accessible or plan an alternate route.  Inform building managers or neighbors of the plan.  If your impairment makes it impossible to escape in the event of a fire, discuss your concern with landlord, or check with the fire department.

6. Don’t Overload Outlets or Extension Cords

Inspect your extension cords regularly for fraying, exposed wire, or loose plugs.  Unplug extension cords when not in use.  If you need to plug in multiple appliances, use an extension cord approved by the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL), a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

As their population begins to grow, fire safety for senior citizens cannot be stressed enough. Property managers, caretakers, the elderly, and their families should all be aware of the increased risk to the age group and try to protect them. The professionals at Total Fire and Safety are ready to help ensure your building has fire equipment that is  working properly.  We provide the life safety features that keep fire safety for your residents, including senior citizens, a main priority.   Give us a call today! 630-960-5060

 


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