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HOME AND FIRE SAFETY FOR OLDER ADULTS
Currently, over 15% of Spokane County residents are 65+ years or older and that rate is growing every year. As we are well aware, the “silver tsunami” of “seniors” is upon us. Additional statistics indicate that 75% of boomers own the homes they live in and many have decided to stay in their homes as long as they can. According to the US Fire Administration, people over the age of 65 are 2 ½ times more likely to die from a home fire than the general population! It is essential that older adults take extra steps to protect themselves and stay safe in their homes.
Install smoke alarms. Smoke alarms give you more time to escape a home fire as they alarm you to conditions before you can see, hear, or smell them.
- Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, inside each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area.
- Test each alarm every month and make sure everyone in the home can hear the alarms. If you can’t hear the alarm, consider an alarm with a different sound, a bed shaker or a strobe light.
- Replace all smoke alarms every ten years. Smoke alarms expire.
Make an escape plan around your abilities. You may have less than three minutes to get out of your home if there is a fire.
- Keep eyeglasses, keys, hearing aids, and phones within reach of your bed.
- Make and practice a fire escape plan at least twice a year. If you use a walker or wheelchair you may need to plan ahead.
- Have two ways out of every room in case one exit is blocked. Test doors and windows to ensure you can operate them. Make sure that your exits are not blocked.
- Have an outside meeting place where first responders can see you.
Be a “fire-safe” smoker. Smoking is the number one cause of home fire deaths in the US.
- Smoke outside.
- Never smoke in bed.
- Do not smoke after taking medications that make you tired.
- Never smoke around medical oxygen.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking. Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires.
- Don’t overload electrical outlets or extension cords/power strips. Plug appliances directly into a wall outlet.
- Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from space heaters, fireplaces, wood stove, furnaces, candles, etc. Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home if it is heated by any source other than electricity. CO alarms should be installed on every level of your home.
Stay safe on your feet. The CDC statistics indicate that falls are the leading cause of death from unintentional injury in the home. However, most falls can be prevented.
- Exercise regularly to build strength and improve your balance.
- Take your time standing up.
- Clear your path from clutter.
- Get your vision and hearing checked regularly.
- Use non-slip mats on the bathtub and shower floors. Install grab bars in the bathroom.
- Use only throw rugs with non-skid backing.
- Stairways should be well lit with full length handrails.
- Wear sturdy, well-fitting, low-heeled shoes.
- Post a “Personal Medication Card” on or in your refrigerator. This important information will be available to first responders in cases when you can’t communicate.
If you have questions, please contact us at 509-928-1700, or via our website at www.spokanevalleyfire.com.
- Julie Happy