Fire Safety for Older Adults
Knowing what to do in the event of a fire is particularly important for older adults. At age 65, people are twice as likely to be killed or injured by fires compared to the population at large. And with our numbers growing every year – in the United States and Canada, adults age 65 and older make up about 12 percent of the population – it’s essential to take the necessary steps to stay safe.
Older Adults and Fire Safety- Did You Know?
Older adults face the greatest relative risk of dying in a fire. In 2015, older adults:
- Represented 15 percent of the United States population but suffered 40 percent of all fire deaths.
- Had a 2.7 times greater risk of dying in a fire than the total population.
- Ages 85 and over were 3.8 times more likely to die in a fire than the total population.
Quick Fire Safety Tips for Older Adults
- Keep it low: If you don’t live in an apartment building, consider sleeping in a room on the ground floor in order to make emergency escape easier. Make sure that smoke alarms are installed in every sleeping room and outside any sleeping areas. Have a telephone installed where you sleep in case of emergency. When looking for an apartment or high-rise home, look for one with an automatic sprinkler system.
- Sound the alarm: The majority of fatal fires occur when people are sleeping, and because smoke can put you into a deeper sleep rather than waking you, it´s important to have a mechanical early warning of a fire to ensure that you wake up. If anyone in your household is deaf or if your own hearing is diminished, consider installing a smoke alarm that uses a flashing light or vibration to alert you to a fire emergency.
- Do the drill: Conduct your own, or participate in, regular fire drills to make sure you know what to do in the event of a home fire. If you or someone you live with cannot escape alone, designate a member of the household to assist, and decide on backups in case the designee isn’t home.
- Open up: Make sure that you are able to open all doors and windows in your home. Locks and pins should open easily from inside. (Some apartment and high-rise buildings have windows designed not to open.) If you have security bars on doors or windows, they should have emergency release devices inside so that they can be opened easily. These devices won’t compromise your safety, but they will enable you to open the window from inside in the event of a fire.
- Stay connected: Keep a telephone nearby, along with emergency phone numbers so that you can communicate with emergency personnel if you’re trapped in your room by fire or smoke.