Fire Safety Tips for Seniors

April 25th, 2021

You’re never too old to pay attention to fire safety.

Unfortunately, as we get older, the risk of dying in a home fire increases. Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires, but smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths for adults 65 and older. 

However, following these simple dos and don’ts in your home can prevent you from harm. 

Practicing kitchen safety

Every year, cooking fires cause numerous home fires. Being mindful of your cooking habits can help you avoid fire or injury from burns.

  • Don’t: Wander away from food when you’re cooking.
  • Do: Keep a close eye on what’s inside your oven. A broiler can burn food in seconds.
  • Don’t: Leave anything flammable near your stovetop.
  • Do: Turn pot and pan handles so they won’t get caught and knocked off the stove.
  • Do: Keep a pot lid nearby. If something in a pan catches fire, place the pot lid over it and turn off the burner.

Practicing safety when heating your home

It’s harder to stay warm as you get older, meaning you may be running your heat more. While space heaters can easily become a fire hazard, you still need to pay attention to other heating methods as well.

  • Do: Keep flammable items at least 3 feet away from radiators, space heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces.
  • Don’t: Place space heaters on furniture. 
  • Do: Place space heaters on a level surface.
  • Do: Get space heaters with an automatic shut off.
  • Don’t: Use your oven or stovetop to heat your home.
  • Do: Have a professional inspect your furnace or radiators every year. 

Practicing electrical safety

If you live in an older home, your wiring may not be equipped to handle newer appliances, and it can become a fire hazard if not checked or updated.

  • Do: Ask a reputable electrician to check your wiring and fuses if your circuit breakers are tripped frequently.
  • Don’t: Use extension cords frequently. These can also cause you to trip. You may want to have an electrician install extra outlets.
  • Do: Replace outlets if plugs feel loose.
  • Don’t: Overload your circuits. This can trip your breakers or fuses.
  • Do: Use lightbulbs that match your lamps’ recommended wattage.

Practicing candle safety

Candles are a simple way to freshen up your home, but they can also be hazardous. For seniors who use oxygen, a wax warmer with a timer may be a better option. 

  • Do: Use sturdy, stable candle holders that can’t be easily knocked over.
  • Don’t: Burn candles when you aren’t in the room.
  • Do: Protect candle flames with a glass chimney or other container.
  • Do: Keep flammable items at least 12 inches away from a lit candle.
  • Don’t: Use a candle as an emergency light. A flashlight will provide better, more reliable light and is safer in an emergency.
  • Don’t: Light candles near medical oxygen.

Lastly, take time to make sure you have smoke alarms installed and that they work. A smoke alarm can alert you to a deadly fire before you see or smell it, making it one of the most useful things you can have in your home. An interconnected system will alert the entire house if there’s smoke in just one area, making it safer than a single alarm. Alternative smoke alarms that flash, vibrate, or emit low-frequency signals are also available for people who have hearing loss.

When installing smoke alarms, make sure to place one on each level of your house. Install alarms in every bedroom and outside of sleeping areas. Finally, test and change the batteries regularly and keep alarms free of dust to ensure they’re in proper working order.

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