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Oct 07

Fire Safety Checklist for Older Adults

October 9th-15th is National Fire Prevention Week.  While many people think of activities for the children, adults can use some good common sense reminders.  Older people are at special risk for death and injury from fires.  Older adults (age 65 and older) are twice as likely to die in fires as any other age group. The death rate for those 85 and over is four times the national average. Older people are also at higher risk of injury from fires. The following tips can help protect you and those you care about from fires and burns.  To protect yourself and those you care about, follow these seven tips from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Fire Administration:

Install and Maintain Smoke Alarms

Install working smoke alarms on every level of your home, especially inside and outside of sleeping areas. Test and dust each alarm monthly, change the batteries at least once a year, and replace the entire smoke alarm unit every 8-10 years. Interconnected smoke alarms are best because if one sounds, they all sound.Get smoke alarms that can sound fast. Ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms detect distinctly different, yet potentially fatal, fires. Because no one can predict what type of fire might start in a home, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends that every residence and place where people sleep be equipped with both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual sensor smoke alarms (which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors).

Use Smoking Materials Safely

Never smoke in bed, while drowsy, or while under the influence of medication or alcohol. Use large, deep ashtrays for smoking debris, and let the contents cool before you dispose of them. Never smoke while using oxygen or anywhere near a medical oxygen source, even if it is turned off

Pay Attention to Your Cooking

Keep pot handles turned inward, and keep cooking surfaces and surrounding areas free from clutter and grease build-up. Use pot holders and oven mitts. Never lean over a hot burner and avoid wearing loose clothing with flowing sleeves while cooking. Never leave food that is cooking on the stove unattended.

Heat Your Home Safely

Have a professional service all heating equipment annually. Keep combustibles and anything that can burn or melt away from all heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, and water heaters. Never use a range or oven to heat your home.

Practice Electrical Safety

Have a professional electrician inspect your home’s electrical wiring system at least every 10 years, and make recommended repairs. Never overload the electrical system. Plug each appliance directly into its own outlet and avoid using extension cords. Have an electrician install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in rooms where water may be present. Install and maintain electrical appliances according to the manufacturers’ instructions.

Keep Matches and Lighters Away from Children

Store matches and lighters in a locked drawer or a high cabinet away from the reach of grandchildren or other youngsters. Make sure lighters are child-resistant.

Practice two ways out of every room in your home

Get out as soon as you discover a fire; do not try to fight the fire. Once out of the house, stay out; do not attempt to enter a burning home to gather possessions left behind. Immediately dial 9-1-1 or your local emergency number for help, preferably from a neighbor’s phone.

The most important thing when a fire occurs is to get out of the house immediately and stay out, then call the fire department. If you are behind a closed door, feel it with your hand before opening it. If the door is hot, look for another possible exit out of the room. Make sure windows can be unlocked and opened, and security bars released. If you are passing through a smoky area, stoop low so that your head is beneath the smoke. If your clothes catch on fire, stop, gently drop to the ground, cover your face, and roll to smother the flames. Do not try to fight the fire; that will only delay your escape. Leave your possessions behind, and never go back into a burning building for any reason.