Winter has its own set of rules for fire safety. It is particularly important to go over fire safety with seniors before the beginning of the winter. Most fires seem to start during the colder season. Seniors feel the cold more and are therefore more apt to use a space heater or other heating device that may be dangerous. Their sense of smell may be diminished as well as their ability to hear smoke alarms. This can cause a slower reaction to a fire that might start in their homes.
- Smoke alarms. Ensure that each level of the home has smoke detectors, especially outside of any sleeping areas. These should be tested regularly and the batteries changed. If seniors are hard of hearing they can purchase alarms that have a flashing light when the batteries get low.
- Cooking fires. These are still the number one cause of fires in the home, usually due to carelessness. Never walk away or leave the room when cooking. If you are deep frying, purchase a special deep fryer with a locking lid. All kitchens should have a fire extinguisher handy. Pot lids should be kept near any pots on the stove. If a fire should start, the lid can be slid back onto the pot and the stove turned off.
- Emergency exit. Work with loved ones to plan an emergency exit in case of fire. Each room should have an alternate exit other than the door in case it is blocked. Stairs and hallways should be kept free of clutter. Curtains or drapes should not be near stoves or other sources of heat. If a fire starts the most important thing is to get out of the building. Arrange with a neighbour to go there or else to a nearby public building. Not all seniors can quickly exit their homes and should have a phone beside their beds.
Before the start of the cold season, make sure all furnaces or heaters are working properly. Flashlights should be used instead of candles or you can purchase flameless candles which run on a battery. This winter ensure that you have done everything you can to keep your home and yourself safe from fire.