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Generally this program deals with educating seniors in fire safety as it relates to them. Often as we get older we start to overlook some of the things we did when we were younger, and in some cases create hazards for ourselves. Also, as we get older we can’t accomplish some of the things we used to and as a result we develop less safe practices to accomplish those things we want to do. Senior fire safety identifies those areas and focuses the education on areas of concern to seniors.  If you can't make it to a class, you can still help yourself, by being prepared.

Fire and Burn Safety for Senior Citizens

Did You Know . . .

  • Americans over the age of 65 have the highest risk of dying in a fire.
  • Approximately 75 percent of the 1,300 senior citizens who die in fires each year do not have working smoke detectors in their homes.
  • People over 80 years of age are three times as likely to die in the event of a fire than the rest of the population.
  • Smoking in bed and misusing space heaters are the leading causes of fire deaths for senior citizens.
  • Why Are Seniors At A Higher Risk?
  • Many seniors live alone. When they need help, there may not be anyone close by.
  • Some senior citizens have physical conditions or are taking medicines which affect their ability to make quick decisions or to move quickly.
  • Many seniors are unaware of what to do in case of a fire.

Tips:

  • Avoid smoking indoors. If you must smoke indoors, don't do it in bed or near upholstered furniture. Also, don't smoke while you read the newspaper. Many people fall asleep while reading. Newspapers can go up in flames before you have time to react to the situation.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet from anything flammable. If you are cold, put on extra socks or sit under a throw blanket. Just make sure the heater is far enough away that the blanket doesn't catch fire.
  • When you cook, wear sleeves that fit snugly around your arms. Loose sleeves can fall into or come too close to a flame and catch fire.
  • Never run electrical cords under carpets or rugs, and never use an extension cord with a space heater or an electric blanket.
  • If you tend to be forgetful about turning appliances off, use an inexpensive kitchen timer to remind you to turn off the stove when you finish cooking.
  • Do not use dishtowels as pot holders. They ignite easily if they are placed too close to a burner.
  • Place a rubber mat in front of the stove to prevent you from slipping and falling against the stovetop.
  • Sleep with your bedroom door closed. In the event of a fire, a closed door will allow you to escape before smoke and toxic fumes can reach you.

A Smoke Detector Can Save Your Life

  • Contrary to common belief, humans cannot smell smoke while asleep. Nine out of 10 fire victims are killed by smoke or toxic gases before the fire department is even called; long before flames reach them. This is why a working smoke detector on each level of your home is vital!
  • Smoke detectors provide early warning of fires, allowing you to escape unharmed before the fire and the related smoke and gases can reach you. Eighty percent of all fire deaths happen in homes without working smoke detectors.
  • Smoke detectors can save your life, but only if they are properly installed and maintained.

Buying A Smoke Detector

  • Smoke detectors are inexpensive (most can be purchased for $10-20), and can be bought at most any hardware store, department store or discount store.

Installing A Smoke Detector

Smoke detectors are as easy and inexpensive to install as they are to buy! All it takes is a step ladder and a couple of screws. If you need assistance installing your smoke detector, ask a neighbor, friend or relative.

If you live in a two-story home, be sure to buy two smoke detectors. A smoke detector should be installed on each level of your home. If your bedroom is upstairs, the upstairs smoke detector should be installed outside your bedroom door.

Maintaining A Smoke Detector

Mark one day each month on your calendar to remind yourself to test your smoke detector. Most have a red button that, when pressed, sounds the alarm to let you know that the detector is in working order. If your detector does not have such a button, you can test it by holding a snuffed-out candle beneath it until you hear the alarm.

You will also need to replace the batteries once a year. Simply remove the cover, take out the old battery and put in the new one. If the old battery is still working, you can use it for a while in another, less important appliance. Never leave a battery in a smoke detector for more than a year.   Change your battery when you change your time during the standard time/daylight savings time changeovers in April and October.

Several times a year, clean the smoke detector's cover to remove dust.

First Aid For Burns

If your clothing catches fire:

STOP: Immediately stop. Don't run!
DROP: Lay down on the floor.
ROLL: Roll over and over to smother the flames. Or, you can wrap a blanket or towel around you to extinguish the flames.

Cool The Burn

If you do receive a burn, follow these steps to lessen the severity of the burn.

  • Stop the burning by removing the heat source.
  • Remove burned clothing. Clothing traps the heat. If clothing is stuck to the skin, carefully cut the clothing away from surrounding areas. Do not peel clothing from burned skin.
  • Cool the burn by running cool water over it for 10-15 minutes.
  • Cover with a clean, dry dressing.
  • Keep warm and call for medical help (usually 911).

NEVER apply ointments, salves or butter to a burn. This will trap in heat and cause the burn to worsen. It also increases the chance of infection.

For more information or to schedule a Senior Fire Safety class for your group or organization, call 887-2210.

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Last updated: 2/16/2007 11:50:46 AM