Fire Safety Tips
for Seniors *
detectors provide valuable protection. Detectors double your chance
of surviving fire in your home by providing early warning and valuable
time for escape. Install smoke detectors and maintain them.
cannot install a detector yourself, ask a relative, a friend, or
a neighbor. They will help you locate the best spot for the detector
and make sure that the detector is installed.
At a minimum,
you should have a detector immediately outside your sleeping area.
The ideal spot is on the ceiling or high on the wall, out of corners
where "dead air" space might not capture rising smoke
and gases. Detectors also should be placed at the top of open airways
(or at the bottom of enclosed stairways). There should be a detector
on every level of your home or apartment.
disable your detectors by removing batteries or disconnecting wires.
Doing so could mean the difference between life and death.
detector goes off because of cooking fumes or steam from the bathroom,
you may need to move it or may need a different type of detector.
the detectors periodically to keep them free from dust and dirt.
Test the batteries. Detectors connected to your house wiring should
be tested regularly, too.
detector batteries should be changed at least twice a year. Use
your birthday or some other major holiday (begin\end Daylight Savings
Time) as your twice annual "Battery Replacement Day."
landlord or building management is responsible for smoke detectors
where you live, call and ask when they last were tested, cleaned
or replaced. If the detectors have not been attended to, insist
that the party responsible act immediately. If they do not respond,
call the Fire Department, your local Agency on Aging, or the Housing
are important protection to escape from a fire. You must have a smoke
detector. Don't live without one!
or not you smoke, friends and relatives who visit your home may.
It is important, in either case, to be careful with all smoking
leave cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended. put out all smoking
materials before you walk away.
put ashtrays on the arms of sofas or chairs. The ashtray can be
tipped easily, spilling hot ashes or burning cigarettes onto the
carpet or furniture.
- Use large ashtrays with
wide lips. While smaller ashtrays may be more attractive, they are
not safe. Cigarettes can roll of the edge, and ashes can easily be
a match box before striking, and hold it away from your body. Set
your cigarette lighter on "low" to prevent burns.
all ashtrays into the toilet or metal container. Warm ashes dumped
in waste cans can smolder for hours, than ignite surrounding trash.
An option is to place the ashtray in the kitchen sink and fill with
water. Let it remain overnight before disposing.
EVER smoke in bed. Make it a rule not to allow any smoking materials
in bedrooms. Burning sheets blankets and other bedclothes create
a fire from which escape is impossible. Toxic fumes from the smoke
can kill. Don't smoke in bed.
- If you begin to
feel drowsy while watching television or reading, extinguish
your cigarette or cigar. Do it before it may be too late.
or relatives who smoke have visited, be sure to check on the floor and
around chair cushions for ashes that may have been dropped accidentally.
- The kitchen is a high
danger zone for fire, so be extra cautious with flame when cooking
in the kitchen.
- If you must leave the
kitchen while you are cooking, turn off the burner. If you have
something in the oven, check it every 15 minutes. Most kitchen fires
occur because food is left unattended on the stove or in the oven.
A "brief" departure from the kitchen to attend to other
matters can easily turn into an extended time away. As a reminder
to you, take a potholder, a cooking spoon, or other kitchen utensil
with you when you leave the room. This object will help you remember
that you have an unfinished task waiting in the kitchen.
- Never cook with loose,
dangling sleeves. Robes and other loose fitting garments can ignite
easily. This is a major cause of serious burns for senior citizens.
Don't take chances!
inspect your extension cords for fraying, exposed wires or loose
plugs. They are not intended for use as permanent wiring. Unplug
them when not in use.
- If you need to plug in
two or three appliances, lamps, etc., do not use a simple extension
cord. It is better to get a UL-approved unit that has built-in circuit
Home Escape Plan
are three essential items that should be kept by your bedside: a
telephone, whistle, and your eyeglasses. You need your glasses to
see how to escape from fire and avoid injury. The whistle serves
two purposes: It lets people know where you are so that you can
be rescued, and enables you to warn other family members of fire.
Your first priority in fire is to get out of the building. Don't
stop to call the Fire Department until you are safe outside. If
you can not escape by the door, telephoning allows you to call for
help while attempting to escape by your back up route. (e.g. a window,
use a wheel chair or walker, check all the exit routes in advance
to be sure you can get through the doorways. If not, map out escape
routes that are acceptable, and discuss your escape plans with your
family, the building manager or neighbors.
have impairments that might make it more difficult for you to escape
from fire, consider talking to your Fire Department and letting
them know your special circumstances in advance.
escape route. You should have a primary and a back-up route mapped
out for each room. Practice getting out. It may seem foolish to
do so, or unnecessary (of course you know how to find a front door),
but when there is a fire or smoke, your reasoning and patterns may
be affected by the emergency. If you have practiced escape routes,
your memory and instinct will help you move in the right direction
and in the right way. Check all the windows from which escape is
planned. Can you open the window, or is it painted or nailed shut?
Make sure your exits allow you to exit!
the publication entitled Fire Risks for Older Adults, published in
October 1999 by the United States Fire Administration. For more information,
please visit their website at United States Fire Administration www.usfa.dhs.gov