The statistics on fire and aging are grim.Home safety for the elderly shows that aging individuals, over the age of 65 years old, are at the greatest risk. Every year there are over 1,000 individuals 65 years old or older die as a result of a fire. Aging adults over the age of 80 years have three times higher risk of dying in a fire than the rest of the population.
There are steps that caregivers and their loved one can take to dramatically improve home safety for the elderly. This can reduce the chances of your loved one becoming a fire casualty.
Here are a few reasons why our aging loved ones are at risk for fire death and injuries:
- Your loved aging one may be less able to take the quick action necessary in a fire emergency due to physical, visual, and hearing impairments
- The medications your loved one is taking may affect their ability to make quick decisions or responds in a timely fashion.
- Fire may happen when seniors may not have others around to help. Common fire occurrences are:
- Cooking accidents are the leading cause of fire related injuries for older Americans. The kitchen is one of the most active and potentially dangerous rooms in the home.
- The unsafe use of smoking materials is the leading cause of fire deaths among aging adults.
- Heating equipment is responsible for a big share of fires in seniors’ homes. Extra caution should be used with alternate heaters such as wood stoves or electric space heaters.
- Faulty wiring is another major cause of fires affecting the elderly. Older homes can have serious wiring problems, ranging from old appliances with bad wiring to overloaded sockets.
More on home safety for the elderly…
Here is a home safety checklist and tips for fire safety and burn precautions:
- Kitchen fires and home safety for the elderly: Most kitchen fires occur because food is left unattended on the stove or in the oven. If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, take a spoon or potholder with you to remind you to return to the kitchen. Never cook with loose, dangling sleeves that can ignite easily. Heat cooking oils gradually and use extra caution when deep-frying. If a fire breaks out in a pan, put a lid on the pan. Never throw water on a grease fire. Never use a range or stove to heat your home. Explore home health care technology that utilizes”smart” kitchen stove covers and universal design concepts to decrease risk for kitchen fires and burns
- Space Heaters: Buy only Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) approved heaters. Use only the manufacturer’s recommended fuel for each heater. Do not use electric space heaters in the bathroom or around other wet areas. Do not dry or store objects on top of your heater. Keep combustibles away from heat sources.
- Smoking: Don’t leave smoking materials unattended. Use “safety ashtrays” with wide lips. Empty all ashtrays into the toilet or a metal container every night before going to bed. Never smoke in bed. Better yet stop smoking.
Down load an extensive home safety checklist on Caregiver and Eldercare: Fire Safety and Burn Precautions below.