Fire Safety – Elderly
Knowing what to do in the event of a fire is particularly important for older adults. People 65 and older are twice as likely to be killed or injured by fires compared to the population at large. Since the elderly population is growing every year, it is essential to take steps to stay safe.
To increase fire safety for older adults, NFPA offers the following guidelines:
- Keep it low
If possible, consider sleeping in a room on the ground floor to make an emergency escape easier. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside any sleeping areas. Have a telephone installed where you sleep in case of emergency. Select an apartment or high-rise home, with an automatic sprinkler system. Sprinklers can extinguish a home fire in less time than it takes for the fire department to arrive.
- Sound the alarm
The majority of fatal fires occur when people are sleeping. This is because smoke can put you into a deeper sleep rather than waking you. It is important to have a mechanical early warning of a fire to ensure that you wake up. Install a smoke alarm that uses a flashing light or vibration if anyone in your household is deaf or hard of hearing. This will better alert you to a fire emergency.
Do the drill
Conduct your own, or take part in, regular fire drills to make sure you know what to do in the event of a home fire. If you or someone you live with cannot escape alone, choose a member of the household to assist. Have a backup person in case the designee isn’t home. Fire drills are also an excellent opportunity to make sure that everyone can hear and respond to smoke alarms.
Make sure that you are able to open all doors and windows in your home. Locks and pins should open easily from the inside. (Some apartment and high-rise buildings have windows designed not to open.) If you have security bars on doors or windows, they should have emergency release devices. This is so that they can open easily. This will enable you to open the window from inside in the event of a fire. Check to ensure that windows are not sealed with paint or nailed shut. If you cannot open a window, arrange for someone to break the seals all around your home or remove the nails.
Keep a telephone nearby, along with emergency phone numbers. You will want to communicate with emergency personnel if fire or smoke have you trapped in a room.