How Elderly Can Stay Safe from House Fires

By Pete Lane, 9:00 am on

Having a smoke detector or fire alarm in the home is not sufficient for elderly fire protection. Aging adults can be forgetful, and this means that stove burners and heated appliances can get left on and common electrical hazards can be overlooked. If you provide home care for an elderly parent, here are a few simple steps that you can take to limit the risk of fire in your aging loved one’s home.

Invest in Appliances with Safety Shut-Offs

Modern appliances are both energy-efficient and designed to prevent house fires. Replace your loved one’s old, outdated appliances with options that have automatic shut-offs. This way, even if seniors forget to unplug irons or coffee pots, these units won’t overheat.

This is also a measure that you should take outside of the kitchen. Electric blankets should only be used when these have been tested for safety and all of their cords and connections remain fully in tact. Space heaters and other heating units should have automatic shut-off switches and features to prevent tipping.

Designate a Smoking Area

If your loved one smokes, make sure that he or she has a safe, designated smoking area that’s sufficiently far from flammable cushions and bedding. Seniors should be discouraged from smoking near oxygen tanks, while sitting on the couch, or while lying in bed.

Use Extension Cords Sparingly and Check Lights

Extension cords should be used as temporary solutions only, rather than permanent fixes, and avoid overloading electric outlets, which can lead to electrical fires. All lamps and other light fixtures throughout the home should also be checked to ensure the bulbs in use are the appropriate wattage.

Get Help in the Kitchen

Efforts to fireproof a senior’s home should also include a review of his or her habits and abilities, particularly in the kitchen. When memory and cognition start to decline, cooking without supervision can be very dangerous. If your senior loved one has had food burn or overheat several times in the recent past, ask whether he or she would like a part-time caregiver to prepare fresh, home-cooked meals instead. 

Have an Exit Plan

Even with diligent measures to prevent fires, these events can still occur. Fires can spread from adjacent apartments or they can develop as the result of structural or electrical defects among other things. All seniors should have clear, feasible plans for exiting the building in the event of a fire. Moreover, in-home caregivers should run fire drills with their elderly loved ones several times per year.

Take your elderly loved one’s safety a step further with help from Centennial Home Care Assistance. Our Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Centennial provides support and safety monitoring for seniors with memory loss, while our hourly and live-in care can be customized to fit your loved one’s specific care needs and schedule. To learn more about our care services, call 303.957.3100 and speak with a friendly Care Manager today.