Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks
Topic: Eldercare and Fire Safety in the Home
Happy New Year! The 1st blog of 2023. Yes, I am back! Yes, I have more to share about elder care! Yes, we must be proactive and not reactive in the caregiving space and Yes, I’m here to help.
Over the holidays, an elderly lady died in her home from a fire. Safety bars prevented first responders from getting to her. While we work hard to fortify our homes to keep the bad actors out, how do we look at the safety of our elders living alone with locks and bars on windows and doors? The elderly as well as those with disabilities may not be able to quickly escape in the event of a fire due to reduced mobility and vision limitations. The occurrence is not limited to Texas. This happens more than we would like to realize.
What Is The Lesson Here?
The woman was trapped, along with her dog, and died by the time firefighters could extinguish the fire. What is the lesson? Sadly, it is not a lesson we want to experience. But it mandates a conversation about seniors living alone in homes that are hard to enter. Fire safety in the home is paramount, indeed. The first line of defense is a fire alarm system that protects the dwelling. The batteries must be operative. That means they must be changed at least every 3 months or sooner if it beeps before then. Some say a good reminder is to change the smoke detector batteries every time you change your clock for Daylight Saving Time. Since not all states practice Daylight Saving Time, the 3-month window is a better plan.
According to a published study from the National Fire Protection Association(NFPA), more than one-third (37 percent) of the fatalities were 65 or older. While smoking materials were the leading cause of home fire deaths overall, this was found only for people in the 55–84 age group. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the victims of fatal smoking material fires were in the area of origin when the fire occurred. Three of every five (61 percent) were in the area and involved in the ignition. Thirty-five percent of the smoking fire fatalities had been sleeping and 17 percent had been unable to act. Three out of every five homes fire deaths result from fires in homes with no working smoke alarms. And should there be a fire distinguisher, where is it and who knows how to work it? When it comes to home safety, especially if the elderly are living alone, it’s critical to have functioning smoke detectors and working batteries. You can read more about the data on NFPA.org.
As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, help protect your loved ones by preparing an escape plan in the event of an emergency and ensure you have the necessary safety equipment installed in the home. The elderly living alone is always a challenge because of the “What Ifs! Be safe! Be well!