Fire Prevention and the Fire Risks Older Adults Face

October 15, 2018

October is Fire Prevention Month.

October is Fire Prevention Month. Use these prevention measures to help a senior loved one lower their risk of being harmed in a fire.

October is Fire Prevention Month. If you are a caregiver for a family elder or senior friend, you might be surprised to learn how frightening the statistics surrounding fires and older adults are. Older adults are at two times greater risk for being seriously injured or losing their life in a fire. While seniors account for only 13% of the country’s population, 35% of fire-related deaths are seniors.

To help raise awareness during Fire Prevention Month, the team at Legacy Senior Living is sharing steps you can take to protect an older loved one from being harmed in a fire.

5 Fire Safety Measures to Protect Older Adults

  1. Space heater hazards: Older adults who have poor circulation or take blood thinner medications may feel cold when others don’t. It can prompt them to use small electric space heaters in their bedroom, bathroom, and living room. While space heaters can help warm the air surrounding the senior, they should be used with caution. Read and follow the instructions to prevent fires. One of the warnings you’ll likely find is to make sure the space heater has at least a three-foot clearance on all sides to avoid a fire.
  2. Kitchen fire concerns: A fire prevention expert will no doubt tell you that most home fires begin in the kitchen, with cooking being the leading cause. You can help your senior loved one avoid a kitchen fire by helping them establish a method of reminding them they have something cooking if they leave the room. It might be as simple as taking a spatula with them. A device like CookStop turns the burner off if movement in the kitchen isn’t detected for a predetermined amount of time. Kitchen clothing and towels can also present a hazard. Seniors should also avoid loose-fitting sleeves that can brush up against a burner and ignite.
  3. Extension cord risks: Seniors often live in the same home for decades. Older homes frequently have fewer electrical outlets than newer homes, leading to greater use of extension cords to connect all of today’s modern devices. While it may be convenient, it might overload a circuit and cause a fire. It can also present a fall risk for a senior who may trip over the cords.
  4. Smoke detector function: Make certain the older adults in your life have working smoke detectors in their homes. Fire experts say at least one smoke detector should be installed on every floor of the home. Have detectors for fire and for smoke. Check the batteries often to make sure they are working. If your loved one has hearing loss, some models of smoke detectors use a strobe light to flash an alert.
  5. Escape planning: Seniors often have slower reflexes and mobility issues that can slow down their escape in the event of a fire. That’s why it’s important to create an escape plan just in case. Help your senior loved one practice several routes for escaping from different rooms in their home in case a fire breaks out.

If you would like to learn more about fire prevention and senior safety, this free publication, Fire Safety Checklist, was developed by FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration.

Emergency Preparedness at Legacy Communities

At Legacy Senior Living communities throughout the southeast, we take emergency preparedness very seriously. From fire prevention to storm safety awareness, we plan for the unexpected. We invite you to tour the community nearest you and ask our team to share their emergency preparedness plans with you. It will give you peace of mind knowing your loved one is in good hands if they move to a Legacy community.