Seniors most susceptible to fire death
says US Fire Administration
The fire death rate among
people over the age of 65 is twice as high as the national average,
according to the United States Fire Administration (USFA). In addition, the
fire death rate among people between ages 75 and 85 is three times the
national average and after age 85, it increases to four times the national
average. These statistics are especially alarming when researchers estimate
that by 2030, the 65 and older population will exceed 70 million people.
Adults 65 years and older can reduce their fire death rate by changing
five major fire safety habits:
Change Smoke Alarm Batteries
Having a working smoke alarm can more than
double your chances of surviving a fire.
Make sure alarms are installed on each level of your home and outside all
sleeping areas. If sleeping with bedroom doors closed, the smoke alarms
should be installed within each room. Test each alarm monthly and replace
the battery at least once a year. Adults who are deaf or hard of hearing
should invest in visual aids such as alarms with strobe lights. Flashing or
vibrating smoke alarms should also be tested every month.
Change or Update Escape Routes Many
older adults are still using escape routes that were planned when the kids
were in the house. Plan and practice your home fire escape. Consider your
capabilities when preparing escape routes. Have two ways to get out of each
room and if needed, make sure all exits are accessible for walkers or
Change Unsafe Smoking Habits Careless
smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths among Americans 65 years and
older. Make sure that you are alert when you smoke and never smoke in bed.
When you are finished smoking, soak the ashes in water before discarding
them. Never leave smoking materials unattended, and collect them in large
Change Unsafe Cooking Habits Cooking
fires are the leading cause of fire injuries among older adults. When using
the stove, never leave cooking food unattended. If you need to step away,
turn it off. Also, wear tight-fitting clothing when cooking over an open
flame; a dangling sleeve can catch fire easily. Keep towels and potholders
away from the flame.
Change Unsafe Heating Practices Install
and maintain heating equipment correctly. Do not store newspapers, rags, or
other combustible materials near a furnace, hot water heater, or space
heater. Keep flammable materials, such as curtains or furniture, at least
three feet from space heaters. Never use a stove as a substitute for a
furnace or space heater.
For more information on senior fire safety or other fire safety topics,
write to the United States Fire Administration, Public Fire Education,
Building I, 16825 South Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, MD 21727 or visit http://www.usfa.fema.gov.