Fire safety can be a significant issue for seniors who choose to continue to live in their own homes, especially if they are living alone. There are a variety of reasons why seniors in particular face fire risk factors that are not an issue for the young, in the form of age-related changes. These may include weaker physical or mental capabilities, limited mobility and side effects of prescribed medications. Most seniors are also on a fixed income and deem home improvements an unnecessary expense. In this article, we take a look at how you can assist your senior family member in making sure they can safely evacuate in the event of an emergency, or what you can do as a senior citizen to ensure that your home is equipped for independent living.
Arguably, the most important aspect of fire safety and fire prevention in the home is making sure smoke alarms are installed and working, which includes testing and changing the battery regularly. It’s also important to ensure that a senior’s home is equipped so that they are able to be alerted to a fire, regardless of if they are hard of hearing.
The Canada Safety Council explains more on fire alarm safety for seniors:
“Install a smoke alarm on each level of the home and outside all sleeping areas: in Ontario this is now the law. Anyone who sleeps with the bedroom doors closed should have a smoke alarm inside the bedroom. Test each alarm monthly and replace the battery twice a year. Remind loved ones that if they hear the smoke alarm “chirp” it means the battery needs to be replaced immediately. Seniors who are deaf or hard of hearing should consider purchasing flashing or vibrating smoke alarms.”
It’s important to make sure that all doors and windows are able to be opened in any home, in order to ensure that you are able to escape in the event of a fire. If a fire is quickly progressing, simply walking out the front door is usually not an option. In the case of a senior with potentially limited mobility, the ability to open the nearest window may make the difference between being able to evacuate and a serious accident.
The NFPA tells us more on how you can ensure that every door and window in your house is able to be opened in the event of an emergency:
“Locks and pins should open easily from inside. (Some apartment and high-rise buildings have windows designed not to open.) If you have security bars on doors or windows, they should have emergency release devices inside so that they can be opened easily. These devices won’t compromise your safety, but they will enable you to open the window from inside in the event of a fire. Check to be sure that windows haven’t been sealed shut with paint or nailed shut; if they have, arrange for someone to break the seals all around your home or remove the nails.”
In the case of an older home versus a newer home, an older home presents significantly more fire safety issues. Newer homes will need to be updated in order to ensure that they have updated safety features and are able to handle newer appliances.
The U.S. Fire Administration confirms that older homes must be inspected in order to ensure that electrical safety is not an issue and that updated safety features are installed:
“Older homes are more likely to catch fire from electrical causes than newer homes. Older wiring may not have the capacity to safely handle newer appliances and equipment and may not have updated safety features.”
Fire-Alert takes pride in equipping homeowners, commercial businesses and government buildings with all necessary fire safety devices to ensure the well-being of families and employees across the nation. Reach out to us using our contact form to find out more.