As people become older it can be increasingly difficult to stay safe at home. Senior citizens are at an increased risk for falls, accidental fires and other emergency situations.
The chance of dying because of an accident at home begins rising at age 65 and then jumps significantly, according to a Harvard study which found that people 75 and older are almost four times as likely to die in a home accident as people 65–74.
Fire kills more than 1,000 people ages 65 and older each year. By following the tips below you can stay safe.
Get Out Alive
- Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, test batteries monthly and change them at least once a year.
- Develop and practice a fire escape plan regularly, at least twice a year. Keep exits clear of debris.
- If at all possible, install residential sprinklers in your home.
Cooking is the leading cause of fire injuries and the third leading cause of fire deaths for people ages 65 and older.
- Never leave cooking unattended. A serious fire can start in just seconds.
- Always wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when you cook.
- Keep towels, pot holders and curtains away from flames.
- Never use the range or oven to heat your home.
- Double check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house.
Careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths and the second leading cause of fire injury among people ages 65 and older.
- If alcohol or medication makes you drowsy, or you're just plain tired, put your cigarette out right away.
- Never smoke in bed.
- Use deep ashtrays and put your cigarette all the way out.
- Don't walk away from a lit cigarette.
Heat Your Home Safely
Heating is the second leading cause of fire death and the third leading cause of fire injury for people ages 65 and older.
- Space heaters need space. Keep heaters at least three feet away from your bed, curtains and flammable materials.
- When buying a space heater, look for a control feature that automatically shuts off the power if the heater falls over.
- Keep fire in the fireplace by making sure you have a screen large enough to catch flying sparks and rolling logs.
Falls are the leading cause of home injury. To prevent falls at home:
- Make sure all hallways and pathways are clear
- Install grab bars in bathrooms near the toilet, tub and shower
- Have your vision checked on a regular basis
- If there is a spill clean it immediately to avoid the chance of slipping later