Home fires are a concern for people across the U.S., especially older adults. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one home fire is reported every 85 seconds. While home fires can happen anytime, they generally occur more during cooler weather. Because of this, we observe National Fire Prevention Week every October.

This awareness campaign is designed to prevent home fires and save lives. It also serves as a reminder to review your emergency preparedness plan with every member of the family. If you are the adult child of or caregiver for a senior, take time to help them do the same.

Understanding how to prevent home fires is particularly important for seniors, especially those who live alone. From vision loss to mobility challenges, older adults may have trouble evacuating quickly in the event of a fire. The good news is many fires can be prevented by following a few solid safety tips.

Home Fire Safety Tips for Seniors

It’s a good idea to do a room by room fire safety assessment a few times a year. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Kitchen Safety
  • Don’t leave the kitchen while food is cooking on the stovetop, even for a short time. If you must leave the room, set a timer that can be heard throughout the home.
  • If you are worried that a senior loved may neglect to turn off burners or forget they have something cooking, consider having an automatic shut-off device installed. These turn the stove off if movement hasn’t been detected in a pre-determined amount of time. CookStop is one with good reviews.
  • Avoid wearing loose-fitting tops while cooking. Billowy sleeves may drop against a burner and ignite. Instead, opt for short or close-fitting sleeves.
  • Don’t hang towels or curtains too close to the burners on a stove. Like loose-fitting sleeves, they can pose a fire hazard.
  1. In the Bedroom
  • Find a place to store essential items by the bedside and help family elders do the same. Include anything they’ll need to reach quickly if they need to escape. A cell phone, eyeglasses, and assistive devices such as a cane or walker are a few.
  • Keep the bedroom door closed while sleeping. This improves chances of escaping if there’s a fire in another area of the home.
  • Never smoke in bed or if you are feeling drowsy.
  • Turn off and unplug space heaters before going to bed.
  1. Around the House
  • Every level of the home should have a smoke alarm. This guide from the National Fire Protection Association will help you learn more about installing and routinely testing smoke alarms.
  • Make sure all furniture, curtains, and other flammable items are kept at least three feet away from any heat source, especially space heaters.

Have an Escape Plan

Map out at least two evacuation routes to follow in the event of a fire. Practice them regularly. The goal is familiarizing everyone in the home with both routes so they know how to quickly use one when under stress.

If you or an older family member has a mobility impairment or vision or hearing loss that might make escaping more difficult, contact your local fire department. They may have programs to track households where residents have special needs.

Fire Safety at Heritage Senior Communities

At Heritage Senior Communities, resident safety is one of our leading priorities. That includes smoke detectors and a sprinkler system. You can learn more by calling the Heritage community nearest you today!