October 6-12 marks this year’s Fire Prevention Week. The week, which was first enacted by President Woodrow Wilson in 1922 and has since been observed on the week of October 9th, is a great reminder of the importance of fire prevention for all of us, but especially for seniors living alone. This is important because an estimated 12,572 Americans aged 65 and older died in fires during a 10-year period. Preventing even one death is worth the effort in terms of making one’s home as safe as possible. Read on to learn more about fire safety tips you should implement:
Maintain and/or Service Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms should be cleaned via dusting or vacuuming at least once yearly. Batteries should also be replaced yearly. All smoke alarms themselves should be replaced once every 10 years. All bedrooms should have a smoke alarm as well as one on every level of a home. If you have are hard of hearing or deaf, get a smoke alarm that uses vibrations or flashing lights to indicate the presence of smoke.
Be Safe in the Kitchen
The kitchen presents the perfect opportunity to create a potential fire hazard. To keep your kitchen as safe as possible, make sure you don’t leave things cooking or boiling on your stove, stay in the room. Also, be sure to turn pot handles towards the back of the stove in order to prevent them from being knocked off. It’s a good idea to keep a pot lid nearby at all times when you are cooking. This will give you an easy to access tool to use to snuff a fire out should one start in a pan while you are cooking.
Practice Heater Safety
When you leave your home or go to bed, make sure to unplug and turn off any heaters. Make sure you don’t place anything too close to furnaces, wood stoves, space heaters or radiators. Be sure to buy space heaters that have a safety feature, and automatic shutoff, so if it overheats or tips over, it will turn off. Also, it’s a good idea to have chimneys professionally cleaned each year.
Be Cautious With Open Flames
If you smoke, most sure you only smoke outdoors. If you want to burn candles, make sure they are sturdy and won’t tip over easily. Also, don’t leave them burning while going to another part of the house.
Create a Fire Safety Plan or Escape Route
Create and practice your fire escape route and evacuation plan. Make sure all your windows and doors are operational and pathways are clear of clutter. It’s a good idea to have more than one plan in mind, in case your first escape route is blocked in some way. It’s best to have at least two escape routes out of your home.
Don’t Forget About Your Home’s Wiring
Avoid using extension cords and overloading electrical circuits. Replace any outlets that don’t hold plugs snugly. If you frequently experience blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers, consider having a licensed electrician giving your home’s wiring a once over.
Implement the above tips in your home or the home of your loved one in order to practice fire prevention.