It takes a bit to shock me these days but when I saw a statistic recently regarding fire safety I was stunned. According to a report by the U.S. Fire Administration, older adults (age 65 and older) are more than twice as likely to die in fires than the Nation’s population as a whole. Individuals aged 85 and over are more than four times likely to die in a fire than the general population. Clearly older adult mobility is a major contributing factor.
As frequent readers of this blog know, Sharon and I are the Executive Director and Deputy Director of Age-Friendly Innovators, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit, dedicated to helping older adults remain in their homes as long as possible. But certainly not if those homes are fire traps. One of our foundation-funded projects is the development of a tool to evaluate the homes of older adults with respect to fall-risk, in-home safety and accessibility. While we have conducted over 20 in-home assessments to date, we had not specifically targeted fire risk. That will now change.
The U.S. Fire Administration has a short fire safety check list of yes or no questions the identify fire risk:
- Do you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home?
- Do you stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food?
- Are space heaters placed at least 3 feet or more away from things that can burn?
- Are all electrical cords in good condition (not damaged or cracked)?
- Do you know two ways out of every room in your home?
- Do you know what to do if your smoke alarm sounds?
If you checked NO to any of these questions, you are at greater risk for being injured in a home fire. You can download the entire Fire Safety Checklist for Older Adults as: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/fa-221pdf
A few final excerpts from the Checklist brochure:
- Smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths for adults 65 and over.
- Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires in America.
- Install CO (carbon monoxide) alarms, especially if the home is heated by any source other than electricity.
- Candles look pretty but represent an open flame that can easily ignite anything that burns around it.
If you have parents living in their own home, get the checklist and take it with you when you next visit. If you have an elderly neighbor living alone, take note of the items on this checklist next time you visit.
Sharon and I will be at the Southern Oregon Home Show (booth #1) on April 24-26. Stop by and we can continue the conversation. We knows, the life you save may be your own.