Fire prevention week 2014 is October 5-11.
It’s not just a once a year thing. Fire prevention strategies should be implemented all year round. But this October, Fire Prevention Week 2014 (October 5-11) allows us to point out some of the strategies everyone should be implementing in their homes – especially with so many people digging out the portable heaters and electric blankets. In fact, most residential fires occur during the winter months, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So many fires are preventable, and for older people it’s no different. For some, it may mean some assistance from caregivers and loved ones to help them ensure that they and their homes are safe from such disasters.
According to the FDNY Foundation, the top 4 leading causes of fire deaths in the home for adults older than 65 include smoking, heating equipment, cooking equipment and electrical. Many of these deaths could be prevented by following a few simple rules. Seniors are at a higher risk for fire injuries and death for many reasons including they may live alone, they may not be able to act as quickly and they may be taking medications that hinder them from taking action.
Fire Prevention Week 2014 Tips
There are many fire prevention tips that everyone should follow, and although these apply to everyone, seniors and caregivers should read these additional considerations for Fire Prevention Week 2014 and make them part of their caregiving.
- Test your smoke alarms every month. If your smoke alarms are in working order, they can cut the risk of home fire death in half, reports the National Fire Protection Association. If you are unable, ask someone for assistance. If you are a caregiver, be sure to make this a routine monthly check.
- Consider having a home assessment done – this can help with where to place the smoke detectors, fire exits, etc. Contact a certified home repair professional or the fire department for assistance. You also can have a licensed electrician inspect your electrical system, usually about every 10 years.
- Consider purchasing a fire detection system – especially if you are a family member that lives away from the senior. Fire detection can be part of a home automation system, which can include notifications sent to family members.
- If the senior is hearing impaired, purchase high density light smoke alarms that flash so someone can see it – they can even wake someone up!
- If using a space heater, make sure they are at least 3 feet from anything that can catch fire such as blankets, curtains, rugs, clothing, etc.
- Do not ever fall asleep or lay down with cigarettes burning anywhere. The safest thing to do is quit smoking. The #1 leading cause of fire deaths in the home was smoking. Always make sure cigarettes are completely out. Do not smoke after taking medication that could cause drowsiness. Caregivers should always check ashtrays in every room to make sure nothing was missed. Don’t let anyone smoke near an oxygen tank.
- Electrical cords already pose a tripping hazard for many seniors, but too many cords plugged in to one outlet or frayed/breaking cords can start a fire. Throw out any frayed or breaking cords and reduce the number of cords plugged in to one area. Try to use one appliance per outlet especially heating devices.
- If you are cooking, wear clothes with fitted sleeves. Turn all handles inward. Make sure all burners and the oven are turned off as soon as you are done. Do not walk away from cooking food.
- Keep a phone next to your bed. Make sure 911 can be dialed easily – have a phone with large buttons or a TTY/TDD device if necessary. [ PLUG FOR SENIOR PHONES ]
- Make sure there is no clutter on stairs and in hallways.
- Electric blankets should be disposed of if there are any frayed cords or are more than 10 years old. If you must use an electric blanket, warm your bed with it and then get in to sleep. Do not sleep with the blanket turned on.
- Both seniors and caregivers should be educated of the fire exit plan. Make sure this is practiced regularly and includes emergency procedures for any medical equipment or other special circumstances. Everyone should know exactly how to get out.
Join us during Fire Prevention Week 2014 (October 5-11) in reminding the seniors in our lives to test their smoke detectors – such a simple thing that has proven to save lives.