Fire and carbon monoxide (CO) safety is important at any age. However, seniors are often more vulnerable to home fires than groups of the population. In fact, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, by age 65, people are 2.7 times more likely (or 4 times more likely for those aged 85 and older) to be killed or injured by fires compared to the population at large.
There are a variety of factors that contribute to this increased vulnerability within the senior demographic. When living alone, older adults can often neglect or are unable to install and maintain smoke alarms. Disabilities, which affect nearly 40% of people aged 65 and older, can impede someone's ability to adequately maintain their home safety and security systems. Similarly, age-related hearing loss, which affects 50% of those age 75 and older, can make it difficult to hear and respond quickly to a standard smoke alarm. Home occupants also have far less time to evacuate their home - only 2 or 3 minutes - due to the increased prevalence of synthetic-based furnishing materials.
It's critical for seniors, their family members and caretakers to understand how to stay protected in the event of a home fire. As part of Carrier's Healthy Homes Program, Kidde is sharing important advice to help protect our older loved ones and keep them safe from the dangers of fire and CO.
Smoke and CO Alarms
Install interconnected alarms throughout the home. Seniors are often more likely to die in a home fire due to hearing loss and mobility issues. Interconnected alarms - if one sounds, all alarms throughout the home sound in unison - can help alert seniors to a fire incident more quickly and in turn, provide more time to escape safely. Alarms should be installed on every level of the home (including basements), in every bedroom and outside each sleeping area to ensure they receive the notification as early as possible, which allows more time to escape.
Opt for smoke and CO alarms that can be powered by a 10-year sealed battery. For those older Americans who are unable to access their smoke and CO alarms every six months, consider a 10-year sealed battery alarm that eliminates the need for frequent battery replacement. Depending on your preference, you can either install a hardwired alarm with a battery back-up or an alarm powered by a 10-year battery.
Consider a strobe alarm or bed shaker. For those older residents who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, or who remove hearing aids to sleep, consider installing alarms with strobe (flashing) lights for a greater chance of waking a sleeping person.
Fire Safety Tips for Seniors
Anticipate your needs. Escaping quickly can be challenging for many older adults. Be sure to keep glasses, hearing aids, canes or wheelchairs close to your bed at night so you can easily access them in an emergency.
Prepare your sleeping area. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the majority of fatal fires occur when people are sleeping. If possible, consider sleeping in a room on the ground floor to help make an emergency escape easier, and have a landline telephone or cell phone and charger nearby along with a local emergency number in case you are trapped by smoke or fire. Keep a flashlight and whistle near your bed to signal for help.
Be extra cautious in the kitchen. Never leave cooking unattended and turn off all ovens and burners once finished. Also, consider programming kitchen devices to automatically shut off after a set period of time. If possible, avoid wearing loose clothing in the kitchen as it can easily catch fire.
Check your escape route. Make sure you're able to open all doors and windows in your home; locks and pins should open easily from the inside. Know how to operate emergency release devices on any security bars on doors and windows, and check that windows haven't been nailed shut, or sealed shut with paint. If they have, arrange for someone to break the seals around your home and remove any nails.
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