Home fire hazards pose a very real danger to older people. Losing eyesight, hearing, mobility, and/or memory can heighten the risk of causing a house fire.
By taking some precautions, seniors can extend their ability to continue participating in activities they love and enable continued independence. Safeguarding yourself against identifiable hazards in your home can enable this. The following suggestions are found in National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publications:
Tips for removing home fire hazards
Cooking mishaps are the leading cause of house fires. Many of these fires are caused by home fire hazards, such as leaving stoves unattended (even for just or a few seconds) or leaving a pot on to simmer while checking something in another room. These can be a recipe for disaster. Research and install devices that suppress or prevent cooking fires such as Auto-Out or FireAvert.
Many house fires are caused by grimy cooking surfaces. Oftentimes fires do not start from the meal you’re currently cooking, but from other home fire hazards, like leftover grease or crumbs on your stove or counter. Taking time to clean up in between meals is an essential step to protecting your home from going up in flames.
Appliances such as washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers create a very high risk of house fires. Check them regularly as directed by the manufacturer and be aware of reported defects so they don’t become home fire hazards. Many appliance fires start while homeowners are away or asleep. These fires are often caused by common and unknown defects in the machines themselves.
Many of today’s common household products contain artificial components, such as plastic. These materials are easily ignited, and quickly burn. Hydrogen Cyanide is often released. Depending on the density in the air, hydrogen cyanide can kill in just seconds. Keep plastics away from heat sources. In general, make sure areas with heat sources and especially open flames, are free of clutter.
Underutilized or non-working smoke alarms put your home and family at an unnecessary fire risk. 3 in 5 house-fire deaths have nonworking or no smoke alarm present. The NFPA suggests having a working smoke alarms in each room of your house. Test your smoke alarms every month and replace them every 10 years.
Overloaded power strips are prevalent catalysts for house fires. Too many cords plugged in to an outlets or power strips create home fire hazards. A spark will burst, creating a very high risk of open flames. Follow manufacturer guidelines.
Candles cause thousands of house fires each year. They can be easily knocked over. Keep a close watch on your candles. Place them up high and keep them out of traffic areas where people and pets could knock them over.
Knowing about these home fire hazards can give you a starting point to protect yourself from fire danger. Do a regular monthly audit of these 7 things to keep yourself and your home protected. Follow the suggestions and use readily available tools that enable you to age-in-place. This will result in peace of mind and help preserve the lifestyle and independence you have worked so hard for.