Fire & Fall Prevention for Older Adults

Ah, the senior years. These are supposed to be the days of relaxing, enjoying your grandchildren and just plain enjoying life, but according to the Virginia Department of Health and National Fire Protection Association, each year many older adults die or experience permanent disabilities after a home fire or fall.

Adults age 65 are twice as likely to be killed or injured by falls or fires, compared to the population at large. By the age of 75, that risk increases to 3 times that of the general population, 4 times at age 85. In 2002, 2,300 senior citizens were injured or killed in residential fires. This is a staggering statistic. So, take a moment and read the below tips to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Prevent Fires
  • Install a smoke detector on each level of your home. Make sure to also have a smoke detector near the bedroom.
  • Check your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries twice a year.
  • Keep yourself and anything that can burn at least 3 feet from space heaters, portable heaters and wood stoves. Turn off and unplug heaters when you leave your home or go to bed.
  • If you smoke, use large, deep ashtrays and wet cigarette butts and ashes before emptying them into the trash.
  • Never smoke when drowsy, lying down or in bed.
  • When cooking, wear tight-fitting or rolled up sleeves. Use oven mitts to handle hot pans and never leave cooking unattended.
  • "Stop, drop and roll" if your clothes catch on fire.
  • If you have a grease fire on the stove, cover it with a lid. Never put water on the fire.
  • Immerse burns in cool water for 10 to 15 minutes. If burn is severe, get medical attention. Never put butter or grease on a burn.
  • Know 2 ways out of each room. Plan and practice your fire escape. In a fire, get out and stay out!
  • If there is a fire, never call 911 from your home. Call from a neighbors house after you have escaped.
Prevent Falls
  • Exercise regularly to build strength and improve balance and coordination.
  • Keep stairs and walkways clear of tripping hazards.
  • See an eye specialist once a year.
  • Improve the lighting in your home. Turn on the lights before using the stairs and install a night-light along the path between the bedroom and bathroom.
  • Use non-slip mats in the tub or shower.
  • Use only throw rugs with rubber, non-skid backing.
  • Install handrails along both sides of the stairs.
  • Wear sturdy, well-fitted, low-heeled shoes with non-slip soles.
  • Have a pharmacist review all your medication.