Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fire Safety for the Elderly

Fire safety for the elderly is extremely important. It is our job to both inform and help protect our elders.  This post is dedicated to some key points and topics regarding fire safety for the elderly.  Older persons have to take extra precautions to maintain safe conditions around the home when it comes to fire safety.  As we get older, we naturally become slower.  On top of this, our eyesight and hearing may not be what is used to be.

  • With this in mind, we need to "Be Prepared".  Make sure you have an evacuation plan in place as well as the necessary item you would need in the event of a fire.  It doesn't matter what age you are, we naturally panic in the event of emergencies and often forget our training.  Make sure to have an emergency kit close at hand.
  • Smoking is slowly becoming a thing of the past but for now it is still here and we need to be aware of the dangers that cigarettes can cause.  Aside for health related deaths, smoking in bed can be very dangerous.  Never smoke in bed!  Make sure you are using large over sized ashtrays and wet all cigarette and cigar butts before throwing them in the trash.
  • Space heaters can cause household fires.  Keep in mind that space heaters can get hot enough to ignite drapes, paper an clothing.  Make sure to keep all combustible and flammable objects at least 3 feet away from space heaters.  Always turn off space heaters before going to bed.
  • As with every home smoke alarms are very important   The elderly need as much warning opportunities as possible.  Install a smoke alarm inside and outside each sleeping unit, the basement, near the kitchen, the garage and on every level of the house.  Be sure to turn the audible alarm to the loudest selection possible (if applicable).  It is very important that you test these smoke alarms monthly and  replace the batteries twice a year.  Remember change the smoke alarm batteries when you change your clocks.  Kidde Night Hawk Combination Smoke/CO Alarm w/Voice/Alarm Warning (Google Affiliate Ad)
    Kitchen stove fire
  • The kitchen is one of the most dangerous areas for fires.  Never begin cooking a meal if you feel drowsy or intoxicated from medication or alcohol.  Always use loud timer buzzers to remind you when to turn off the oven or burners.  When cooking on the stove top, turn pot handles inward to avoid accidental spills and always use oven mitts to avoid burns.  NEVER leave cooking foods unattended.  Remember to smother grease fire DO NOT USE WATER!  
  • Like we stated above, plan your escape.  Make sure you know at least two ways out of every room in the house.  Practice these escapes frequently as to avoid confusion in the event of a real fire emergency.  If one of your routes is blocked by flames or smoke, make sure you can escape by an unobstructed optional route.  First Alert EL52-2 Escape Ladder - 2 Story 14 Foot (Google Affiliate Ad)
  • In a household for the elderly, it is important to have locks and safety latches that are easy to undo in the event of a fire emergency   Remember every second counts.  
  • If you are living in an apartment or even a town home  it may be common that your front door is located in a corridor or even above the ground floor.  Make sure you can find your way out of the building in the dark.  When smoke builds it may become very dark almost as if the lights were completely out.  It is a good practice to count steps, doors, columns, etc.  This will help you find your way in the dark or in the event of a fire.
  • In the event that you can not get out via one of your two escape routes, don't panic.  Use your phone to call for help.  It is recommended to keep your phone close at hand.  If for some reason you cannot locate your phone, use a red towel out of the window to signal someone.  Make sure you advise your neighbors to check on you during an emergency.
  • Always check doors for heat.  There may be a fire on the other side of a door used in your evacuation.  Use the back of your hand to lightly feel for heat on the door or door handle.  If it is hot, do not open it.  Fire is always looking for oxygen and may engulf you if you open the door.
    Block smoke under a door with a towel
  • If for some reason you are trapped in a room, block off the smoke and poisonous gases.  This can be accomplished by stuffing rags or clothes (preferably wet) under doors and around windows.  Once this is complete, signal for help.  
  • In the event of a fire and you need to exit through a smokey area, crawl.  The lower you get, the cooler, safer and cleaner the air will be.  Try to stay below 2 feet if possible.
  • Remember what we learned in elementary school.  If you catch fire, STOP, DROP and ROLL!  Do not run around as this will fan the flames.  Get down as quickly as you can, cover your face with your hands and roll around to smother the flames.
  • Once you evacuate the building via your planned escape route, STAY OUT!

These steps should be followed for fire safety for the elderly.  Planning now can save a live tomorrow.

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