One of the most common safety concerns for seniors has always been falls, but there is another very important safety concern: fire. The most common form of accidental injury or death in the home among seniors are falls, the second most common are fires.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, people over the age of 65 have triple the risk of fire death or injury, and people over the age of 80 have 4.5 times the risk. In an educational campaign distributed by the same government agency, titled “A Fire Safety Campaign for People 50+,” it states that there are three major factors for this risk and they refer to them as the “Three M’s.”
- Memory: As we all age we become more forgetful, therefore more likely to forget something on the stove or perhaps a candle burning in another room.
- Medication: Many of the most commonly prescribed medications for seniors can affect our short-term memory and make us drowsier. This can lead to falling asleep while cooking and making it more difficult to awaken to a fire.
- Mobility: Many seniors have reduced or impaired mobility making it more difficult or in some cases impossible to be able to escape a home fire without assistance.
Many family caregivers have expressed valid concerns for a family member’s safety. There are monitored safety systems available that provide notification to outside help in the event of a fall but many do nothing to provide automatic fire notification. When considering any type of emergency alert system, it is very important that you take both fall and fire safety into consideration.
For more information on fire safety for seniors, please call me at 563-265-1968 or visit www.AmericanFireSafety.org/seniorsafety.
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