The facts speak
for themselves: Americans over the age of 65 are one of the groups at
greatest risk of dying in a fire. On average, 959 Americans age 65 and
over die in fires. People over the age of 80 die in fires at a rate three
times higher than the rest of the population. However, there are a number
of precautionary steps older Americans can take to dramatically reduce
their chances of becoming a fire casualty.
Understanding the Risks
Older People at Risk?
are at risk for fire death and injuries for a number of reasons:
They may be
less able to take the quick action necessary in a fire emergency.
They may be
on medication that affects their ability to make quick decisions.
people live alone and when accidents happen others may not be around
Hazards Affect Older People?
are the leading cause of fire related injuries for older Americans.
The kitchen is one of the most active and potentially dangerous rooms
in the home.
use of smoking materials is the leading cause of fire deaths among
is responsible for a big share of fires in seniors' homes. Extra caution
should be used with alternate heaters such as wood stoves or electric
is another major cause of fires affecting the elderly. Older homes
can have serious wiring problems, ranging from old appliances with
bad wiring to overloaded sockets.
Sarety Tips for Older Americans
Fires. Most kitchen fires occur because food is left unattended
on the stove or in the oven. If you must leave the kitchen while cooking,
take a spoon or potholder with you to remind you to return to the kitchen.
Never cook with loose, dangling sleeves that can ignite easily. Heat
cooking oils gradually and use extra caution when deep-frying. If a
fire breaks out in a pan, put a lid on the pan. Never throw water on
a grease fire. Never use a range or stove to heat your home.
Heaters. Buy only Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) approved heaters.
Use only the manufacturer's recommended fuel for each heater. Do not
use electric space heaters in the bathroom or around other wet areas.
Do not dry or store objects on top of your heater. Keep combustibles
away from heat sources.
Don't leave smoking materials unattended. Use "safety ashtrays" with
wide lips. Empty all ashtrays into the toilet or a metal container every
night before going to bed. Never smoke in bed.
Finally, having a working
smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And
remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.
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