Don't Trip Up - Senior Citizen Fire Hazards in the HomeMarch 13 2017
Don’t Trip Up – Senior Citizen Fire Safety Hazards in the Home
by Jessica Walter
Adults over the age of 65 are at high risk of injury or fatality from a fire started in the home. Between 2006 and 2015, those over 65 made up 37% of all fire-related fatalities in Canada, with 42% of these individuals being between the ages of 70 and 79. Many of these fires began during the night when the individual is less likely to catch the fire in time or is unable to escape before it spreads. Prevention is the best way for seniors to stay fire-safe at home. The following common hazards are things you may want to remove or stop doing in your home to avoid starting a blaze.
Cooking Without Assistance
Forgetting that you have left something in the oven, or on the stove is a common fire hazard for the elderly. There is also a risk that you will fall asleep while cooking alone, thereby causing a fire. Setting a timer that vibrates or rings when you cook can remind you that something is on the stove. Alternatively, having your meals delivered or using a microwave to heat food can reduce this risk.
Smoking is the main cause of fires in the homes of senior adults and 26% of fatalities are the result of smoking related fires. There are various ways to protect yourself or your loved one from this, including banning smoking in the home altogether. Ashes in ashtrays can be soaked with water before leaving the home or going to sleep. It may also be wise to avoid smoking in rooms with lots of materials which could catch fire easily or, better still, encourage quitting.
Blocked Pathways and Exits
Fire hazards can also include anything which blocks your means of escape. Items lying on stairwells could result in a fall which could, in turn, leave you injured and unable to escape a blaze. Putting general senior safety measures in place could help save you from a fire such as creating a clear path to an exit free of obstructions. Mobility issues may make getting to the exit more difficult, so ensure there is space for your mobility scooter, walking support or wheelchair.
Ask a family member or friend to help you get your home fire safe if you struggle to move items yourself or suffer from a disability. Taking these steps could save your life.