Fire Safety for the Elderly
When it comes to the elderly, fire safety cannot be stressed enough. Sadly, statistics show that this segment of the American population runs a much higher risk of being the victim of a deadly fire than younger people.
The Elderly at Risk
According to the United States Fire Administration, older adults run a risk that is 2.5 times higher of dying in a fire than people in younger age groups. They also suffer a higher number of fire related injuries.
Most of the elderly people who lost their lives or were injured by fires were in their bedroom sleeping when the fire broke out.
Fire Risk Factors of the Elderly
Naturally, every elderly person has different physical and mental abilities. There are elders that run marathons, seniors that swim laps and people in their 80s and 90s with minds as sharp as they were in their earlier years. However, this is not the norm.
Most people suffer from physical and/or mental decline as they age. The elderly often are afflicted with illnesses or disabilities that limit their mobility to varying degrees, making escape from a fire more difficult.
The following are additional risk factors that increase the possibility of fire related injuries or fatalities to the elderly.
- Diminished mental faculties due to depression, forms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
- Slower reaction times
- A reduction in the abilities of the five senses:
- Vision, Hearing, Smell, Touch, Taste
- Medications may have an affect on a senior citizens quick decision making ability
- Economic situations may cause some elderly people to use dangerous space heaters, candles or cooking methods. They may be unable to pay for necessary home repairs involving electrical problems.
- Many elderly people live alone.
Fire Hazards and the Elderly
The following are several of the most common causes of fires that affect older people:
- Kitchen fire caused by cooking accidents, such as unattended or forgotten pots of food being cooked, or fires caused by grease flare-ups
- Using alternative heating methods such as kerosene or electric space heaters, wood stoves or fireplaces
- Electrical problems including overloaded outlets, old and worn appliances and faulty or old wiring
For the elderly, fire safety education for them, their family and caretakers could mean the difference between life and death.