October is National Fire Prevention Awareness Month. While we all know that in-home fires can be deadly, few realize who is at greatest risk: older adults. In fact, seniors are harmed or fatally injured in a fire at a rate double to that of younger adults. The older you are, the higher your risk.
Adults age 85 and older are five times more likely to be injured or lose their life in a fire than younger adults. So while older adults account for only 13 percent of the population, they account for nearly 35 percent of fire-related deaths. For family members, these are alarming statistics.
To raise awareness about fire dangers among seniors, we are sharing a few resources adult children and caregivers can use to keep an older loved one safe.
Fire Safety Resources for Senior Loved Ones
1. Smoke detectors: Fire safety professionals usually advise having one smoke detector on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside every sleeping area. If a senior has hearing loss, however, they might not hear the alarm sound.
Instead of a traditional smoke detector, you can install a smoke detector that flashes a strobe light, sends out a vibration, or both if smoke or fire is detected. You can even find smoke detectors that shake the bed if a senior is sleeping when a fire alarm sounds. If you need information on how to successfully install smoke detectors in a senior’s home, this guide from the National Fire Prevention Association will help.
2. Kitchen safety: Most home fires start in the kitchen. From something left cooking in the oven to a grease fire on the stovetop, kitchens present unique fire dangers for older adults.
The National Fire Prevention Association created the graphic “Keep an Eye on What You Fry” to help raise awareness. You can print it out to review with senior loved ones or share it on your social media accounts.
3. Electrical fires: According to the U.S. Fire Administration, electrical fires are another cause of many home fires. The winter months are a peak time for electrical fires because lighting sources and heating appliances are used more.
The Home Insurance Association created this checklist of the leading causes of electrical fires. You can use it to identify potential hazards in an older loved one’s home that might need to be addressed by a licensed electrician.
4. Fire Safety Checklist: Finally, to conduct a comprehensive fire risk assessment of your senior loved one’s home, use this free resource from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). It covers topics ranging from cooking safety to having an escape plan.
From fire suppression systems to routine fire drills, we take safety very seriously at Sunrise Senior Living communities across the country. Call us at 888-434-4648 to learn more about our emergency preparedness plans or to schedule a tour at the community nearest you!