9 fire safety tips for seniors and their caregivers

Alan Wu

March 28, 2012

Fire safety for seniors is easy with the right planning and preventative measures.No one like to think about it, but house fires can happen for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, the fire death rate for senior citizens is more than double the national average – triple for those over 75 years old. In order to protect your loved ones, it’s important to take steps to prevent fires and plan out what to do in the event of one. Here are nine tips to start with.

1. Make sure there is a smoke alarm installed on every floor of the home your relative is living in. Check them monthly to make sure that the batteries are working and there are no problems.

2. Plan an escape route. In the event of a fire, it’s important to have an escape route to turn to. It’s a good idea to choose two exits out of every room, if possible. Look for exit stairways and make sure your relative knows never to use the elevator in an apartment building during a fire.

3. Ensure that space heaters and chimneys are properly maintained. Heating devices should never be placed close to flammable materials, and chimneys should be cleaned on a regular basis.

4. Install a medical alert device from Bay Alarm. In the event of a fire, your loved one will use the medical alarm to contact an emergency response team who can help form a plan of action and reach help.

5. When cooking, be sure not to leave unattended food on the stove. Instruct your relatives to do the same. If you need to leave for a moment, it’s a good idea to take something like a spoon from the kitchen with you as a reminder.

6. Don’t overload electrical outlets or extension cords. When electronics are not in use, it’s a good idea to unplug them.

7. If your loved one smokes cigarettes, ensure that he or she never smokes in bed. When finished smoking, be sure that the butt is completely out before discarding it. Never leave smoking materials unattended and use large, deep ashtrays.

8. Take special care if your loved one takes a medication that makes him or her drowsy. In the event of a fire, he or she may not be able to hear the smoke alarm. In this case, it might be a good idea to have someone around.

9. If your relative uses a walker, wheelchair or cane, these items should be placed close by. He or she should also be able to easily fit through exits.

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