Home fires are a concern in cities and towns all across our country. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a local fire department responds to a fire in our country every 24 seconds. Every 85 seconds one of them is in a private residence. While fires can be deadly for people of all ages, seniors are especially vulnerable.
For older adults, the risk of being harmed in a fire is high. Vision loss, hearing impairments, mobility challenges, and slower reaction times are common with aging. Each of these can put a senior at increased risk of injury should a home fire occur.
Though home fires occur every month of the year, they generally peak in the fall and winter when the weather is cooler and people are more likely to use furnaces and heaters. That is why the second week in October is designated as National Fire Prevention Month each year.
Here are a few ways you can stay safe as we head into autumn once again.
Stay Safe from Home Fires during Retirement
While smokers make up only 15.5% of the population, smoking is a leading cause of home fires. Bedrooms and living rooms are several places where smoking-related fires begin. An unattended cigarette or a dropped ash can ignite mattresses and upholstery. If you are a smoker, be mindful of these statistics.
Here are some general fire safety tips that apply to the home:
- Check to make sure every level of your house has a smoke detector. You need to make sure there is one near the kitchen and next to bedrooms where people sleep.
- Check all smoke detectors on a regular basis to be sure they are working properly. Write the task on your monthly calendar or set an alert on your smartphone so you don’t forget.
- If you use a space heater, be sure you are carefully following the instructions. Most heaters should be at least three feet away from any flammable materials, like furniture, curtains, clothing, and rugs.
- Develop an evacuation plan that includes at least two ways to escape the house in the event of a fire. Practice fire drills from the most frequently used rooms in the house. Fire prevention experts say people typically have only three minutes to safely escape a burning building, so it’s important to practice your escape route until you can evacuate quickly.
Kitchen Fire Prevention Tips
It’s probably no surprise that 2 out of every 5 home fires begin in the kitchen while food is cooking. Kitchen fires account for 15% of all deaths from fires. Here are a few tips to help you avoid one in your kitchen:
- Don’t leave food cooking on the stove unattended. If you have no other choice, set a timer on the stove or on your smartphone.
- Avoid cooking in long sleeved clothing, especially tops with flowing sleeves. They can drop against a burner and ignite. Instead, choose garments with short sleeves or close-fitting sleeves while cooking.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy. This can help you quickly douse a small fire before it gets out of control while you are cooking. Make sure it’s a size you can comfortably lift.
Bedroom Fire Safety
While bedroom fires might not be as common as those that begin in the kitchen, it’s important to be prepared just in case.
- Stash essentials within easy reach, such as your cell phone or eyeglasses and don’t forget any assistive devices you require. A pair of easy to slip on shoes is also a good idea.
- Keep the bedroom door closed while you are sleeping. This can help you stay safe if a fire breaks out in another part of the home.
- Make sure space heaters are turned off and unplugged before taking a nap or going to sleep.
If you haven’t already, one additional safety measure you can take is to purchase a mobile medical alert system. In the event of a fire or other emergency, you can quickly call for help with the push of a button. Call 1-844-203-5617 to learn more today!