As we turn our clocks back an hour early Sunday morning, it’s also a good time to do all the little things around the house that will help prepare for the shorter, darker and cooler days to follow. Older adults may need a little assistance this weekend to reach smoke detectors to change batteries, make sure furnaces filters are changed, the heat is running properly and flashlights are in working order in a handy spot.
Not only should homes be equipped with working smoke alarms, they should also have carbon monoxide detectors. Three of every five home fire deaths in the United States occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. And because you cannot smell carbon monoxide, this poisonous gas is often called the invisible killer. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, older adults have more than twice the risk of dying in a fire than the overall population; making a fire safety plan is important to keep elderly loved-ones safer at home.
While you are busy getting batteries for smoke detectors and flashlights, it’s probably convenient to pick up extra lightbulbs. Properly lighting outdoor pathways and indoor hallways can help prevent falls for older adults. And although leaves may still be falling, it’s never too early to dig out a snow shovel and salt or sand to be prepared in case of an early snowfall.
A growing number of seniors are aging in place at home where they are in familiar surroundings and with a few modifications and community support systems in place, remaining independent long into old age is a reality for many. Here are a number of fire safety tips for older adults and their caregivers.
Fire Safety Tips for Seniors
- Keep heaters 3 feet away from drapes, bedding or furniture
- Have a working smoke alarm in each bedroom and outside sleeping areas
- Test alarms to make sure seniors can hear it, even if asleep
- Plan an escape route; keep glasses, hearing aid and cane/walker or wheelchair nearby
- Be safe around medical oxygen – don’t smoke or use any open flame
- Don’t overload electric outlets or extension cords
- Use a timer in the kitchen and don’t leave cooking food unattended
For a fire safety checklist for caregivers of older adults follow this link to the FEMA website.