Older adults are twice as likely to suffer injury or death from fire damage in their homes or assisted living facility. In 2018, senior citizens accounted for 40% of all fire related casualties. Common reasons of these incidents can be attributed to hearing loss, decreased mobility, eyesight deterioration, and cognitive confusion. It’s important to make sure that, as a senior citizen or business owner who serves this population, you use these fire prevention tips to keep yourself and others safe.
Fire Safety Checklist for Older Adults
These tips for fire safety prevention can be implemented in your home, and in assisted living facilities, rehabilitation facilities, and skilled nursing facilities to keep the lives of your senior residents safer. Start by posting the NFPA’s Fire Safety Education list on every floor and pass out to seniors and staff, to help educate everyone on fire safety guidelines. Then, follow these seven steps:
Check smoke alarm batteries monthly. Have smoke alarms installed in every bedroom, in each hallway and kitchen, and on each level of your home. If you are hard of hearing, consider installing smoke alarms that not only make noise, but have flashing lights. Consider smart smoke alarms that will send an alert to your smartphone or wearable device. You can go a step further and connect your smoke alarms to your home alert system. When the smoke alarm goes off, it automatically contacts the fire department.
Use a space heater with an automatic shutoff. Place all space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn or is flammable. If you don’t have a space heater with an automatic shutoff, try setting an alarm or reminder alert on your smartphone to remember to turn it off before you leave the house or go to bed. Also consider replacing your older heater with a space heater with an automatic shutoff.
Consider only smoking outside. Smoking cigarettes outside of your home will prevent accidental fires. Never smoke in bed in case you fall asleep, and never smoke if you use an oxygen tank. Use large, deep ashtrays to stub out your cigarette. Wet the butt before throwing it away or placing it in sand.
Use candles safely. Many people love the ambiance of burning candles in the home, but sometimes seniors or distracted caregivers can forget about them. Consider using electronic alternatives to add ambiance without the fire hazard.
Create an emergency escape plan. Use this printable fire escape plan template to mark emergency exits and routes in your home or assisted living facility. Practice your escape routes often so that you know how to get out safely in case of a fire. Also consider your physical condition when creating your routes. If you need assistance, keep a phone next to your bed to call for help. Also keep any mobility assistance close to the bed at all times, including your walker, wheelchair, cane, or scooter.
Stay safe in the kitchen. If you are cooking, baking, using the stove or oven, stay in the kitchen. If you need to leave the kitchen for any reason, even if it’s to use the bathroom or answer the door, turn off all equipment and burners before leaving the room. This is especially important if you are frying food, as oil can quickly catch on fire when left unattended.
Evaluate installing a sprinkler system. It may be a larger investment, but sprinkler systems can prevent fires from spreading beyond a contained area and save lives. Even in a residential home, a fire sprinkler system can be invaluable. If you run a senior home, assisted living complex, or rehabilitation facility,the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) created the NFPA25 to help you keep your assisted living facility’s sprinkler system up to code at all times.
Additional Fire Prevention Tools from the Experts
It can be difficult to know where to start and how to implement fire safety in your home or skilled nursing facility. To help, here are three references from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that your can use to create your plan and upgrade your fire safety tools
- Use FEMA’s Fire Safe Senior’s Guide to help you get started.
- Evaluate your home with FEMA’s Fire Safety Home Assessment Tool.
- Print out this pocket fire safety reminder card for reference of fire safety at any time.
Does Your Home or Facility Need Fire Damage Restoration?
Contact Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration. With 24/7 emergency response, we’re there for you to help assess the situation, mitigate the damage, and make a plan to restore your property back to pre-loss condition. We will help you recover from residential fire damage. Our professional team of certified, trained, and trusted advisers are experts in the fire damage restoration industry. We will oversee your property’s damage recovery with honest, reliable, high-quality work so your tenants can go back to their normal lives, quickly.
Alpha Omega is the leading disaster restoration company serving commercial and residential properties in Billings, MT and surrounding areas.