fire safetyWhen you are the adult child of an aging parent who lives alone, safety is always a concern. Family caregivers are often surprised at how much greater risk their senior loved one has of being hurt or fatally injured in a fire.

Because of health conditions, slower reflexes and other aging-related issues, seniors have double the risk younger adults do. Once they reach the age of 85, that risk climbs to nearly five times higher. Seniors account for 35% of all deaths in the U.S. caused by fire.

As National Fire Prevention Week kicks off, we have pulled together a few tips to help Connecticut caregivers know how to evaluate their senior loved one’s home for fire safety.

6 Fire Safety Tips for Connecticut Seniors

  1. Conduct a fire safety evaluation. The Federal Emergency Management Administration has put together a fire safety checklist you probably find to be of help.
  2. Space heater safety. For seniors who are trying to control utility expenses, space heaters often seem like a good solution. While fires caused by space heaters aren’t common, they often lead to fatalities when they do occur. 79% of home heating related deaths are caused by a space heater. These space heater safety tips from the National Fire Prevention Association can help keep your senior loved one safe.
  3. Fire safe kitchens. Cooking related problems are the leading cause of all home fires. Remind your aging loved one to stay in the kitchen when they have a pot cooking on the stove. You can also use an automatic turn-off device like Cook Stop. Older adults should avoid wearing clothing with loose-fitting sleeves that can easily ignite when they are cooking. Keeping a small fire extinguisher in an easily accessed corner of the kitchen is also advised.
  4. Smoke detectors for hearing impaired. A surprising number of older adults do not have a working smoke detector in their home. Fire prevention experts recommend at least one smoke detector on every floor of the home. If a loved one lives with a hearing impairment, products like the Silent Call Smoke Detector and the Silent Call Bed Shaker can accommodate their hearing loss. They can send a vibration alert and shake the bed to alert the senior to a fire.
  5. Have an escape plan. Seniors often live with health conditions and aging-related challenges that often make it more difficult to react quickly in an emergency. Developing an escape plan for them to exit the home in case a fire breaks out is important. Be sure to review and practice it with them a few times a year.
  6. Furnace Inspection. As we head in to the coldest months of the year, our final safety tip is to make sure your senior loved one’s furnace is inspected by a professional. It can help prevent both fire and carbon monoxide emergencies.

If you would like to read more about keeping a senior loved one safe from harm in a fire, this Fire Safety Checklist from FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration is available to download at no cost.