Fire Prevention Week happens every year in early October. President Calvin Coolidge initiated the observance in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It’s now our country’s longest running public health observance and the perfect time to review your personal fire safety knowledge, whether you are a senior or the caretaker of an elderly individual. Fire safety is important for everyone regardless of age. However, those over 65 are twice as likely to be injured or die in a fire. Understanding fire prevention and how to stay safe in the event of a fire requires seniors and their caregivers to work together.
This year’s fire safety theme is “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety.” The National Fire Prevention Association is asking seniors and caretakers to familiarize themselves with the different sounds smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors make in addition to all other fire prevention precautions. 41% of household fires deaths occur in homes with no smoke detectors. That’s why every home should have alarms located in each bedroom and outside each sleeping area.
Fire-Safety Sounds To Listen For:
- Continuous beeping means smoke or CO is present. At the sound of this alarm, you need to go outside and call 9-1-1. Fires can get out of control in just a couple of minutes, and a smoke alarm is more likely to detect the smoke before a human can. Getting to safety is the primary concern at this point.
- A single chirp every 30-60 seconds means it is time to replace the battery. If you’ve replaced the battery, but the chirping continues, this means you should replace the alarm.
- Those who are deaf or hard of hearing should take additional precautions, such as a bed or pillow shaker and a strobe light that will turn on when the smoke or CO alarm activates.
Fire Safety Tips for Seniors and Caretakers
Staying informed is the best way to prevent a fire. Seniors and their caregivers will gain power by understanding likely fire dangers and also how to respond in the event a fire does occur. The easiest way to ensure that you or someone you care for has all the tools to prevent household fires is to use a checklist and have a home safety action plan. The list should be reviewed monthly so that no details are forgotten. Caretakers play an important role in helping seniors feel empowered by keeping a fire-safe home. Common safety items that should be reviewed with every senior include:
Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
- Smoke alarms should be less than ten years old and CO detectors less than seven years old.
- Batteries need to be changed every six months.
- Test your alarms monthly.
- Place alarms on each level of the home, inside and outside of all sleeping areas.
- Ensure that seniors can hear the alarm from every room in the house. Add extra safety precautions like bed shakers and strobe lights for those with hearing impairments.
Heating Equipment Safety
- Maintain 3-foot clearance around space heaters and fireplaces.
- Turn off heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Use heating products for their intended purpose.
- Inspect wiring and plugs and do not use them if frayed, worn, or damaged.
- Use a fireplace screen to prevent flying sparks.
- Have chimneys or wood stoves inspected annually.
- Do not overload outlets with too many appliances and devices.
- Never run an electrical cord under a carpet or through a door frame where it can be pinched.
- Use GFCI-protected outlets in kitchens and bathrooms.
- Check electrical cords regularly for damage.
- Make sure that a licensed electrician performs all electrical work.
- Consult with a professional if circuit breakers frequently trip, outlets are warm or make buzzing sounds, or lights flicker or dim.
Kitchen and Cooking Safety
- Do not wear loose clothing while cooking.
- Stay in the kitchen at all times while cooking.
- Turn handles of pots and pans inwards, so they do not risk getting bumped.
- Before leaving the kitchen, make sure you turn off burners and all appliances.
- Keep towels and other flammable items away from the stove and hot surfaces.
- Consider covers for the stove that require the assistance of a caretaker to turn off and on.
Make an Escape Plan
- There should be at least two escape routes from the home.
- Make sure all doors and windows to the outside open easily.
- Ensure all exits are free of clutter and accessible according to the senior’s abilities.
- Plan a safe meeting place outside, such as in front of a neighbors house.
- Practice the routes a couple of times a year and make changes as health and mobility requirements change.
- Keep phone, eyeglasses, hearing aids near the bedside.
Sometimes it can be the most simple thing that prevents an otherwise disastrous fire. Reviewing checklists and practicing personal safety has the power to keep seniors safe with the assistance of their caretakers and a fire prevention safety plan.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and more independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.