Common Fire Hazards
Caregivers have so many items on their to do list that some safety concerns fall low on the immediate list, even if we know they are a high priority.
Fire safety is important all year, but as we start approaching Fall and Winter, we tend to do more things that could cause fires. If you don’t live with your elderly parent, there are things you can do to help them reduce their fire risk. One of the most important components in fire safety is properly installed smoke alarms. Be sure to install a smoke alarm in each sleeping room as well as throughout the home. Test the smoke alarm regularly and schedule frequent battery changes as well.
- Replace or repair damaged electrical cords
- Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpet
- Avoid overloading outlets
- Place lamps on level surfaces away from things that can burn and use bulbs that match the recommended wattage
- Be sure to use a screen to prevent sparks from flying
- Don’t store newspaper, kindling or matches near the fireplace
- Have your chimney inspected annually by professionals
- Blow out all candles before leaving a room and be sure to keep all open flames (including candles) at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn
- Don’t leave space heaters operating when you’re not in the room
- Don’t place items near a space heater or standard heater
- Don’t use extension cords with electric space heaters. The high heat can melt the cords and cause a fire
- Never use a gas range as a substitute for a heater
- Never pour water on a grease fire. Turn off the stove and cover the pan with a lid or close the oven door
- Don’t store items on or around the stove
- Don’t wear loose clothing when cooking
- Unattended cooking food is the number one cause of kitchen fires
- If you see smoke when you are using cooking oil, reduce the heat and remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is an indication that the oil is too hot
General Fire Safety Tips for Older Adults
Here are some general safety tips for older adults from the National Fire Protection Association.
- If possible, sleep in a bedroom on the ground floor. It is easier to escape in case of fire.
- Be sure to regularly check smoke alarms.
- Practice fire escape routes so that you know your safe ways out of the house.
- Be sure that you are able to open all doors and windows. If you have security devices, be sure they have emergency releases.
- Keep a telephone nearby (particularly in a bedroom) to dial 911 if there is a fire in your home.
In an ideally world, you’ll never need any of these fire safety tips, but it is definitely better to be safe than sorry. While you’re doing a fire safety check, you may want to also check their fall and wellness risks.