Senior Safety - Central County Fire & Rescue

Senior Safety

Along with retirement and spending more time with the grandchildren, aging also brings with an increased risk of accidents.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) older adults are twice as likely to be killed or injured by fires or falls. Each year, 30 percent of those age 65 and older are involved in falls, the leading cause of death from unintentional injury in that age group.

NFPA Recommends Following These Tips To Stay Safe

If you smoke, smoke outside.
  • Use deep, sturdy ashtrays.
  • Wet cigarette butts and ashes before throwing them out or bury them in sand.
  • Never smoke in bed.
Give space heaters space.
  • Keep them at least three feet (1 meter) away from anything that can burn – including you.
  • Shut off and unplug heaters when you leave your home or go to bed.
Be kitchen wise.
  • Wear tight-fitting clothing or short sleeves when cooking.
  • Use oven mitts to handle hot pans.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • If a pan of food catches fire, slide a lid over it and turn off the burner.
  • Don’t cook if you are drowsy from alcohol or medication.
Stop, drop, and roll.
  • If your clothes catch on fire: stop (don’t run), drop gently to the ground, and cover your face with your hands.
  • Roll over and over or back and forth to put out the fire. 
  • Use cool water for 3 to 5 minutes to cool the burn. 
  • Get medical help right away.  
Smoke alarms save lives.
  • Have smoke alarms installed outside each sleeping area, on every level of your home, and in each bedroom.
  • Make sure alarms are interconnected: when one sounds they all sound.
  • Have someone test your smoke alarms once a month by pushing the test button.
Plan and practice your escape from fire.
  • If possible, know two ways out of every room in your home and two ways out of the home.
  • Make sure windows and doors open easily. In a fire, get out and stay out.
Remember 9-1-1
  • Once you have escaped a fire, call the fire department from a neighbor’s phone or a cell phone.
  • Plan your escape around your abilities.
  • Have a telephone in your bedroom and post the local emergency number nearby in case you are trapped by smoke or fire.
Exercise regularly.
  • Exercise builds strength and improves your balance and coordination.
  • Ask your doctor about the best physical exercise for you.
Take your time.
  • Get out of chairs slowly.
  • Sit a moment before you get out of your bed.
  • Stand and get your balance before you walk. 
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
Clear the way.
  • Keep stairs and walking areas free of electrical cords, shoes, clothing, books, magazines, and other clutter.
Look out for yourself.
  • See an eye specialist once a year.
  • Poor vision can increase your chance of falling.
  • Improve the lighting in your home.
  • Use night lights to light the path between your bedroom and bathroom.
  • Turn on the lights before using the stairs.
Wipe up spilled liquids immediately.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
  • Have grab bars installed on the wall in the tub and shower and next to the toilet.
Be aware of uneven surfaces.
  • Use only throw rugs that have rubber, non-skid backing.
  • Smooth out wrinkles and folds in carpeting.
Tread carefully.
  • Stairways should be well lit from both top and bottom. Have easy-to-grip handrails installed along the full length of both sides of the stairs.
  • Put your best foot forward.
  • Wear sturdy, well-fitted, low-heeled shoes with non-slip soles.
  • These are safer than high heels, thick-soled athletic shoes, slippers, or stocking feet.

These tips are part of Remembering When: A Fire and Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults, which was developed by NFPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help older adults live safely at home for as long as possible. The program is built around 16 key safety messages – eight fire prevention and eight fall prevention.

Related Information

Go4Life An exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH, is designed to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life. Motivating older adults to become physically active for the first time, return to exercise after a break in their routines, or build more exercise and physical activity into weekly routines are the essential elements of Go4Life.

NFPA Older Adult Safety

Harvard Study on Home Safety For Older Adults