The risk of fire death for people age 65 and over is three times greater than the risk for adults under age 65. WHY?
They may be less able to take the quick action necessary in a fire emergency. They may be on medication that affects their ability to make quick decisions. Many older people live alone, and when accidents happen, others may not be around to help. Each year, more than 1,300 Americans 65 years old and older die in fires. What are some steps you could take NOW to help make sure you don’t lose YOUR life in a fire?
Having smoke detectors that work cuts your risk of dying in a home fire in half by providing the early warning necessary for escape. Over 75% of U.S. homes have at least one smoke detector, but almost half do not work!
Minimum of one per floor Avoid false alarm prone areas, kitchen, fireplaces, etc. Place Outside of and inside of bedrooms.
Periodic cleaning or dusting
Annual battery change
BURNS AND SCALDS
Turn hot water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or a low setting or install anti-scald valves in the sink, shower and bathtub areas.
Cool a burn by submerging in cool water (avoid ice or butter) Place a clean, dry bandage or cloth over the burn—Call 911 if severe Remember to “Stop, Drop and Roll” if clothes catch fire and you are able.
The number one cause of fire deaths is smoking material Use large ashtrays, with big lips, and don’t leave smoking materials unattended Empty ashtrays in toilet or sink. Never smoke in bed If feeling drowsy, extinguish all smoking materials.
PRACTICE THE PLAN
Carbon monoxide (present in all fires) affects your judgment – plan ahead so you will know what to do Sleep with bedroom doors closed to allow extra time for escape. If your smoke detector goes off:
Roll out of bed, crawl to door, feel for heat, crawl out or use the secondary exit, if necessary Leave valuables and call 911 from a neighbor’s phone.
If you cannot escape: call 911 on phone and let them know of your location, hang a sheet or blanket out your window, and blow your whistle.
SPACE HEATERS AND HEATING EQUIPMENT
Keep three feet of clearance around heating equipment Never place combustibles ON heaters to heat them up quickly.
People over the age of 74 suffer the highest home cooking fire death rates in the United States. The majority of fire deaths in this age group were caused by combustible items positioned too close to the cooking device. Kitchens are high hazard area for fires. Don’t leave cooking unattended, but if you must leave:
- Shut off burners
- Take a utensil or pot holder as a reminder
- Never cook with loose, dangling sleeves, such as bathrobes
- Turn pot handles in to avoid bumping and spilling
- ALWAYS keep a lid next to the pan you are cooking in, so it can be easily covered in case of a small pan fire. Then, shut off burner for cooling. Baking soda will also work well.
- DO NOT use water on cooking fires.
- Regular cleaning of cooking equipment helps keep grease buildup in check.
HOME ESCAPE PLANS
Most people fail to plan what to do in an emergency, but by carefully planning your actions ahead, injuries and deaths can be avoided. Items to keep near your bed: a telephone, whistle, and your eyeglasses.
Put your glasses on in an emergency to see your way. The whistle lets people know where you are AND awakens other people The telephone to call 911 if trapped in room and unable to escape PLAN the escape routes in the home: primary and secondary exits from every room, and be sure to check all windows for easy opening.
Regularly inspect electrical and extension cords Consider UL approved outlet strip with built-in circuit breaker Do not run extension cords under rugs.
Know the classes of fire: Class A is ordinary combustibles Class B is flammable liquids Class C is energized electrical equipment Know in advance where extinguishers are kept and the classes of fire they are effective on. Call the fire department before attempting to use an extinguisher. Keep an exit at your back, as a way out in case of an emergency PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep) to use fire extinguishers.