Fire Safety Tips for Elderly Family and Neighbours
Escaping a fire at home is a challenging and frightening experience. As an elderly person the risks and challenges are increased and there are a number of reasons why elderly people are at greater risk of fire. These include deteriorating eyesight and hearing, reduced mobility, and lack of awareness/access to information.
As we head into autumn and winter, we’d like to share these tips on how you can help keep older people, whether they are family, friends, or neighbours safer in their homes over the coming months.
Smoke alarms are life savers but only if they are in working order. There should be at least one on each floor of any home and they need to be tested regularly. Testing can be harder for people who are less mobile so they may need help to do this, or perhaps suggest that they use a broom handle or similar, to reach the button.
Many of us access safety information via the internet or social media these days. Older people are less likely to have access to these resources or to know how to use them. Could you help keep them up to date with advice and developments around ways to stay safe?
Electric blankets tend to be popular with the elderly but if they are not in good condition there is potentially the risk of electric shock, electrical burns and fire. Things to look out for include scorch marks, loose elements, any damage to the power cable and general wear and tear. If in doubt, it is safer to replace an old electric blanket and they should always be purchased new, never second hand. Most local fire services offer free checking and testing of electrical blankets in October each year.
Emollients/skin creams are another thing commonly used by older people. They are designed to cover the skin with a film to help prevent water loss and are a particular fire concern when used by people spending long periods of time in bed or an armchair as a build up on bedding, fabrics or clothing can increase flammability of these items. It is important to be aware of the risk around any ignition source such as an open fire, kitchen hob, or cigarette.
If portable heaters of any type are in use it is important to keep them away from soft furnishings and furniture, turn them off before going to bed, keep them clean and check that the wiring is in good condition to reduce the risk of fire. They should not be used to dry clothes, and you should also make sure that the power cable isn’t a potential trip hazard.
Many local fire services offer a Fire Safety visit where they will offer advice and take steps to keep people safe including fitting free smoke alarms. So, if there is someone you are concerned about perhaps you ask if they would like you to arrange a visit for them.
The recent challenges we have faced in the light of Covid 19 have helped many communities develop a spirit of looking out for neighbours, especially those who are vulnerable. If you can, offer to do your bit and help keep everyone safe at home.