Fall and Fire Safety Measures for Seniors
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), one in four Americans 65 years and older fall every year, and falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries among this population as well. Seniors at 65 years are also twice as likely to be injured or killed in a fire compared to the overall population (and three times as likely at 75 years; four times at 85 years). The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) offers a program, Remembering When, that focuses on fire prevention and fall prevention for seniors. Do you live in a high-risk fire state or in a state with the inclement weather where falls from icy conditions are common? The program is designed to be used by senior housing communities, local fire stations, various volunteer service organizations, etc. to present to local senior populations. The program consists of 16 safety messages for fire and fall prevention. This program can be a great way to implement communication between local medical and emergency response personnel and your senior living facility. The program is interactive for group presentations including discussion, trivia, and handout packets. Consider this program to add to your activity calendar list! If you live at home, review the following fire and fall prevention measures:
Fire Prevention Safety Measures
- If you smoke, smoke outside: Never smoke in bed or when prescribed oxygen is being used in a house.
- Use space heaters with caution: Keep heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn and be sure to turn them off when you are not home.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking: Turn off the burner if you leave the room and do not operate kitchen appliances when you are on a medication that makes you drowsy or you have consumed alcohol.
- Stop, Drop, & Roll: If your clothes catch on fire, be sure to get down to the ground, cover your face, and roll until the flames are put out. If you use a wheelchair or other ambulatory device, make sure to lock the wheels before you get out to drop to the ground and roll.
- Smoke Alarms: Make sure they are working and replace smoke alarms that are 10 years or older.
- Have a fire escape plan: Make sure everyone knows the escape plan and practice it. Be sure to have multiple ways to exit your home or living facility.
Fall Prevention Safety Measures
- Exercise: Keeping a regular exercise routine will help keep up your strength and allow for better balance to prevent falls.
- Don’t rush getting up: Take your time to get out of bed, out of a chair, from a vehicle, etc. Be sure you have a good grip on what you are pushing out of and to have your legs under you before you try to get up.
- Declutter: Keep hallways and rooms clear of things easy to trip on such as rugs, cords, or clothes.
- Use light: Especially at night, have lights in your bathrooms and hallways to prevent falls from not being able to see in the dark. Always turn on the lights before going up or downstairs.
- Bathroom safety: Install a support bar for your shower, use non-slip mats, and keep the floor dry.
- Wear shoes that have good support and good grip.
Other Recommended Safety Measures for Fire & Fall Safety
Senior Living Link connected with Brent, a firefighter, and paramedic who has worked for a mid-sized city for the past 25 years. Brent offered the following safety and prevention measures that are helpful for medical and fire response to help seniors receive quick and accurate care:
- Have a list of medications, emergency contact information, and physician contact information readily available
- Make sure you have a clear address on your house
- Any type of security codes that require access to house or complex readily available to give to 911
- Consider Life alert if you are at risk for falling or have balancing or gait issues
- Keep a Living Will
- The number one place that fires start is in the kitchen. Have an up-to-date fire extinguisher in your kitchen
- Set an alarm and remember to turn oven and burners off after finished cooking
- Be careful of too many extension cords in the house
- Contact a qualified electrician if you are having problems with the wiring of the house
- Have a working smoke detector: check the batteries twice a year (a good time to do this is when you change your clocks for daylight savings)
- Have a working carbon monoxide detector (You can get a combination smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector)
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