Elderly Fire HazardsBy Child Safety Specialist Mar 28, 2011 | 10:40:00 amPosted in: Fire Prevention, Senior Safety
As my parents grow older I worry more about their safety. While my mom is extremely fit, the reality is her reflexes are slower and she sometimes will get confused. Aging adults face many health and safety issues. One in particular is fire hazards. In fact, adults every year over 1,000 people over the age of 65 die as a result of a fire.
It’s important to do an inspection of your elderly parents’ home and set up some safeguards in case a fire does break out:
Check that smoke detectors are in good working order and connected so if one goes off the others will too, and have a back-up battery system. Smoke detectors should be tied in to a home monitoring system so that alerts will immediately be communicated to emergency responders.
Have the heating system serviced and cleaned on an annual basis as well as any fireplaces.
Be sure that electrical wiring is up to code and there are not frayed wires. Switch out old outlets in bathrooms, kitchens and anywhere else there might be moisture with ground fault circuit interrupter (GFI) switches.
Consider changing from a gas to electric stove. If the pilot light goes out on a gas stove there’s the potential danger of toxic gases dispersing. The benefit to electric stoves is that there is usually a light indicator to alert a person that the surface is still hot or on.
The kitchen is the leading area for home fires for the elderly. Remind your parents not to cook with loose clothing or keep towels, potholders or other cloth near the stove. Stick a large sign on the wall leading out of the kitchen or on the refrigerator reminding them to check that they’ve turned off the burners before they leave. Remind them never to try to extinguish a cooking fire with water ,but rather to contain it with a pot lid. Keep fire extinguishers conveniently located throughout the house.
Often, elderly people forget to extinguish candles before leaving the house or going to bed. Switch real candles out for electric ones that are much safer.
The incidence of cigarette fires among the elderly is extremely high. The dangers are compounded if they use an oxygen tank. Constantly remind seniors not to smoke in bed or on upholstered furniture where, if a burning ember should fall onto the cushion it could smolder and ignite. Try to redirect them to smoke in a safer designated area and place signs around the home reminding them to be sure that cigarettes are completely extinguished.
Plan and practice and emergency evacuation plan with your parents on a frequent basis. Consider two different escape exits and determine where they would go when leaving the home.
Elderly parents might be resistant to your offers to help secure their home but your insistence could potentially save their lives.
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