Thursday, August 21, 2014

Home Fire Safety for Family and Friends of Older Adults

When it comes to fire, adults over age 65 are at greater risk than any other group. Most fire deaths occur in the home and it is important for older adults to know how to protect themselves. If you have a relative, friend or neighbor in this high-risk group, please take a few minutes to complete this fire safety check of their home.

Conduct the following safety checks:

Can everyone hear the smoke alarm?
  • Check that the smoke alarms have been tested. If not, test the smoke alarm by pressing the alarm test button. If it is difficult to reach, use a broom handle or ruler to test it.
  • Check that the batteries have been changed within the past year. Batteries should be replaced each year. It is a good idea to mark the date on the batteries so that anyone will know when they were last replaced. Families are encouraged to change the batteries in the fall during "Change your Clock, Change Your Batteries" programs.

    A chirping sound indicates a low battery, but this sound can be difficult for an older person to hear or recognize.
  • Check for scorch marks on pots and pans. If you find scorch marks, discuss with the older person. He/she may be leaving cooking unattended.
  • Check that clothing, bedding, furniture and floors are free of cigarette burns.If you find cigarette burns, discuss the situation with your older friend or relative.

Fire Safety

What would you do if the room filled with smoke?
        Demonstrate how to crawl low and go.
For those living in apartments:
Do you know the sound of the fire alarm and what to do if the alarm sounds?Find out correct procedures from building management.
Do you ever leave cooking unattended?
Most kitchen fires start because cooking food has been left unattended. Never leave items cooking unattended on the stovetop. It's best to turn off the stove before leaving the kitchen and to closely monitor things cooking in the oven. Use a timer or take an item such as a potholder as a reminder if there is something cooking in the oven.
Do you know what to do if a pot on the stove catches fire?
Keep a proper fitting lid nearby and safely slide it over the burning pot.
  • If a grease fire starts:
    • Using a potholder, place a lid over the burning pan.Is there a phone near your bed in case you need help?
    • Turn off the heat source.
    • Leave the lid on the pan until it is completely cool.
    • Never use water on a grease fire.
    • Don't try to carry a pan that is on fire to the sink or outdoors. Smother the fire with a lid and leave the pan where it is.
Are combustibles or things that can easily ignite, such as dish towels or curtains near the stove?
Keep anything that can easily catch fire away from the stove.
Do you wear tight-fitting or rolled up sleeves when you use the stove?
Dangling sleeves can easily brush against a hot burner and quickly catch fire.
Are you careful not to reach over hot burners?
Use the front burners as much as possible.
Do you keep portable heaters at least 3 feet from any combustible materials, such as drapes, clothing or furniture?
Space heaters can quickly warm up a cold room, but they have also been the cause of many serious home fires. Remind your friend or relative that portable heaters should be at least three feet from all combustible materials, including paper, bedding, furniture and curtains. Never use your heater to dry clothing or shoes and make sure that all heaters are turned off before leaving your home or going to bed.
If you smoke, do you consider yourself a careful smoker?
Smokers should use large, deep ashtrays and never smoke when drowsy or in bed.
Where do you empty your ashtrays?
Soak cigarette butts and cigar ashes in water before discarding or in a non-combustible can. Ashes from a cigarette can smolder for hours before a flare-up occurs.
Are you cautious when your drink and smoke?
Drinking alcohol while smoking is a deadly combination and account for many fire deaths.
Take a few minutes to learn about safety in the home and get family members involved! With a little planning, many injuries and deaths from fires and unintentional injuries could be prevented. We put safety where you put your family - FIRST. Please don't hesitate to call the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service if you need help with any aspect of your home safety.

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