Fire Safety for Seniors


Fire Safety for Seniors

Teaching seniors about fire and life safety can save lives. We offer materials about safety risks specific to seniors including smoking, cooking, use of home oxygen, and staying safe at home.

Seniors are more likely to die in fires than those of other ages. DFS offers materials about keeping seniors safe at home and about safety risks specific to seniors including smoking, cooking, electrical fires, and planning for emergencies.


Senior Fire Safety

The fire and injury risks we face change as we age and it is important to adapt our homes so we can stay independent and safe. A fall, a burn, or a fire can be devastating. As our skin ages, it thins and burns can be more damage more quickly.

Older homeowners may need help replacing  batteries in smoke and CO alarms at least once a year, and replacing smoke alarms entirely every 10. Many fire departments can help through their Senior SAFE Programs.

Electrical systems need a check-up every 10 years, and furnaces and chimneys need a tune-up every year. Fuel assistance programs can help homeowners with important regular maintenance.

People facing mobility issues, may need to revise their home escape plan to accommodate that, by perhaps moving a bedroom to the first floor. People with hearing issues may want to get a bed shaker connected to their smoke alarm.


Cooking is the leading cause of fire injuries to people over 65. Follow these tips to stay safe while cooking:

  • Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves while cooking as loose sleeves easily catch fire.
  • Stand by your cooking and never leave it unattended.
  • Put a lid on the stove top to put a fire out.
  • If your clothes catch on fire, lower yourself to the ground, cover your eyes and roll to put out the flames. Don’t be afraid to “Stop, Drop, and Roll”, it could save your life.
  • You can use a dish towel, bathrobe or coat to also put out the flames on yourself or someone else.

Learn more about cooking fire safety

Electrical Fires

Follow these safe practices to prevent electrical fires:

  • Don’t overload outlets or power strips
  • Repair or discard anything with a frayed wire
  • Use one appliance per outlet, especially if it’s a heat generating appliance
  • Don’t run electrical cords under rugs or let them get pinched by furniture
  • Extension cords are for temporary use only and are not designed for long-term use
  • Space heaters need at least 3 feet of space from anything that can burn
  • Have a licensed electrician inspect your electrical system every 10 years


Follow these safe practices to prevent smoking fires:

  • Smoke outdoors
  • Use large and sturdy ashtrays or a can filled with sand to put out cigarettes
  • Be sure that matches and cigarettes are fully extinguished when throwing them away
  • Never extinguish cigarettes in potted plants or mulch
  • If you’re drowsy or falling asleep, put out your cigarette
  • Never smoke while using oxygen or near an oxygen source
  • Have a plan to get out of the house in 3 minutes or less
  • Keep eyeglasses, canes, walkers, and hearing instruments next to the bed or wherever you sleep at night
  • Make sure that all pathways are clear of clutter
  • Install night lights throughout the house to prevent falls
  • Make sure that house numbers are clearly visible from the street so emergency responder can find your house
  • Get a File of Life form from your senior center or fire department. Fill it out and keep it on your refrigerator. The File records your medications. Emergency responders know to look for this record when they come to assist you.



Safety Tips 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.

Safety tips

To increase fire safety for older adults, NFPA offers the following guidelines:

  • 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 alarmsare 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. Sprinklers can extinguish a home fire in less time that it takes for the fire department to arrive.
  • 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. View a list of product manufacturers.
  • 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. Fire drills are also a good opportunity to make sure that everyone is able to hear and respond to smoke alarms.
  • 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 buildingshave 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. Check to be sure that windows haven’t been sealed shut with paint or nailed shut; if they have, arrange for someone to break the seals all around your home or remove the nails.
  • 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.



Escape Planning for Older Adults

Your risk of dying in a home fire is greater as you get older. Knowing what to do if there is a fire can make a big difference. o Know two ways out of every room. Practice using both ways. o Remove any items that may block your way out of the room or your home. o Discuss your fire escape plan with family and neighbors. Contact your building manager or fire department to discuss your plan if you need extra help escaping. o Keep eyeglasses, keys, hearing aids and a phone within reach next to your bed. o Practice your home fire escape drill twice a year. Adults 65 and over are twice as likely to die in fires For more information


10 “Most Recommended” Fire Safety Tips for Seniors

Older adults are twice as likely to die or get injured from a fire as the rest of the population. In fact, seniors represented 40% of all fire related deaths in the United States. Decreased mobility, cognitive confusion, sight and hearing loss can all impact your ability to respond and take the quick steps necessary in an emergency situation.

Whether it’s forgetting to butt out a cigarette or leaving the stove top on, fires are a serious risk for seniors, but one that’s largely avoidable with a little extra care.

We’ve assembled some of the most recommended fire safety tips for seniors from the country’s leading authorities to help guide you on some of the things you should do to prevent fires and reduce the likelihood of injury should one occur.

10 Fire Safety Tips For Seniors

  1. Butt Out

Smoking is the #1 cause of fires that kill older adults. Never smoke in bed. Never smoke if there is an oxygen tank nearby. Instead, smoke outside to fully eliminate the risk of fire. Regardless, make sure you use deep and heavy ashtrays to avoid them from flipping or falling off a table by accident. Moreover, when putting out your cigarette, use water or sand to help snuff out any embers.

  1. Space Heaters Need Space

Make sure space heaters are not too close to drapes, bedding, sofas or your clothing. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association recommends your space heater should be at least 3 feet away from everything. Shut off AND unplug your space heater when you leave your home and go to bed. Never plug your space heater into an extension cord or power strip, plug them directly into the wall.

As an extra precaution, you can also get a space heater that is designed to turn off if it gets tipped over.

  1. Cook With Care

Most cooking fires happen when you fry food. If a pan or pot of food catches fire, keep a lid nearby and cover the pan. Wear short, rolled-up or fitted sleeves when cooking so they don’t catch fire accidentally. Don’t leave the room when food is being cooked on the stove. Move things that can burn away from the stove.

  1. Smoke Alarms

Did you know the chance of surviving a home fire almost doubles with the use of a smoke alarm? They work.

You should get a smoke alarm for every room, outside each bedroom and on every level of your home. If you can get a connected smoke alarm system, so that if one goes off, they all go off. You should also test your smoke alarms every month (simply press the test button). If hearing the alarm is a problem, you can get a strobe alarm or one that shakes your bed in the event it goes off. Lastly, if reacting to a smoke alarm is a problem due to poor hearing, vision or immobility consider getting a smoke alarm that’s connected to a monitoring center in the event it gets triggered.

  1. Get Fireplace & Wood Stoves Inspected Annually

Your fireplace or wood stove may need a cleaning. Too much soot in your chimney can cause a fire. Cracks in chimney bricks and rusting in stove pipes can also cause a fire. Avoid burning green wood, garbage or cardboard boxes in your fireplace, as they increase dangerous soot buildup in your chimney. Also, if you have fireplace glass doors, keep them open when making a fire.

  1. Make a Getaway Plan

If there is a fire that’s too hard to control, get out. Create a fire escape plan and familiarize yourself with it. You should know the exits from your house or apartment, as well as how to get out of your building. Make sure your designated escape door can be easily opened, when rushed and visibility is poor. If you have difficulty maneuvering quickly or without help, consider getting one of the many dependable and reputable medical alert systems. If you have an emergency, simply press the button and agents will send help right away.

  1. Learn How To Put Out A Fire on Your Clothing

If your clothes catch on fire you’ll need to learn how to put out the fire. According to the CDC and the National Fire Prevention Association, stop (don’t run), drop and roll. Cover your face. Roll until the fire is out. If you’re not able to drop, use something like a blanket to put out the flames. Run cold water on your burn until emergency responders arrive.

  1. Avoid Escape Proof Doors

If your loved one has issues with wandering due to alzheimer’s or dementia, do not create a complicated lock that will keep them from opening the front door. You could end up trapping them inside the house in the event of a fire. Better to explore getting them a GPS system that will track them if they wander or an alarm system that will alert you if they leave a designated perimeter.

  1. Avoid Candles

Scented candles have grown in popularity, they smell delicious and they can create a calm and soothing environment. Avoid any open flames in your home to the extent possible. Consider electric scented candles or electric candles as a safer alternative to the real thing.

  1. Keep Fire Extinguishers Nearby

You should have at least one fire extinguisher near every fire hazard, whether it be the kitchen, the fireplace, wood stove or your furnace room. Make sure your fire extinguishers are full and operational. Also, don’t place the extinguishers too close to the hazard. For example, place an extinguisher in the kitchen, but far away from the stove, that way if your stove top does catch fire, you’ll be able to get the extinguisher without burning yourself.

CINTAA Elder care shares useful information regarding healthcare on weekly basis. The post is only for information purpose only. Please check with your health care professional before using this information. To keep yourself updated with many other health tips, stay with us. We provide certified caregivers for seniors at home. If you need any help regarding eldercare, please feel free to call us today at 561-963-1915.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *