Fire safety is an important thing to keep in mind for any homeowner, but even more so for seniors. With a little bit of advanced planning and precautions, you can help reduce the risk of accidental fires in the home.
Below are a few tips and considerations to help keep seniors safe from fire:
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
There should always be working smoke detectors on every floor of a home and a carbon monoxide detector as well. They should be tested regularly (every month or so) and any detectors low on battery should be replaced as soon as possible. You wouldn’t want your detector to run out of battery when you need it most! Maintenance and replacing of detectors should generally be done by a caretaker or a professional. Don’t try to climb up yourself!
It’s important to practice safe cooking to help prevent fires. Always ensure no flammable materials are left too close to burners or anything that can get too hot. Be sure to set timers and never leave anything unattended for too long. Keep pot and pan handles pointed away from you to ensure you can’t accidentally knock them down. Keep your cooking area clean and keep any oils clear of any open flames. Wear appropriate apparel when cooking! Long or loose sleeves can suddenly catch fire or even become caught on something and cause serious trouble.
Space heaters are notorious for starting fires and it's important we are extra careful and vigilant when using them. When choosing a space heater, be sure to find one with automatic safety shut offs that turn the heater off when they are moved or tipped over. This will help prevent any accidental fires should you or a pet accidentally knock the heater over. Be sure to place the heater well clear of any curtains, furniture, or other materials that could potentially catch fire. Make yourself little notes and place them near your door so that you remind yourself to turn off any heaters before you leave the home.
Smoking and Safety
For seniors that smoke, there comes an extra layer of precaution one must take to prevent accidental fires. It’s crucial not to smoke in bed or when tired as you run the risk of falling asleep with a lit cigarette. That cigarette could fall to the floor and light something else on fire, or could possibly even catch your mattress or bedding on fire. There are also special products known as smoker’s bib to help protect clothing from dropped cigarettes or ashes. Or special bedside ashtrays that allow you to smoke via a tube while the lit cigarette stays within the ashtray.
Have an escape plan
While we would hope to never have to use one, it is extremely important to have an escape plan in the case of a fire. It’s important to know more than one exit in the event of a fire. Plan routes with kitchen fires in mind, but also have routes in the case of a fire in any room. Be sure to keep the floors free of clutter and never block off exits with heavy furniture or equipment. Have a light and a telephone at hand in any area that you or an aging loved one spend a lot of time in. There should also be a known meeting area outside so everyone can meet and ensure that everyone is accounted for and safe.
Our caregivers at Christian Companions would be delighted to help assist you or a loved one in fire proofing and planning for your home. Reach out to us today if you feel you might benefit from having one of our in-home assistants help you prepare against home fires.