Senior Citizen Checklist

Fire Safety Checklist for Senior Citizens

Each year in the United States, fire claims over 6,000 lives and causes about six billion dollars in property damage. Many of these victims are citizens over 60 years of age. America's senior citizens are statistically more likely to die in home fires than younger citizens. Seniors are more at risk due to slower reflexes, hearing loss, medications and other effects of aging. To increase a senior's chance of preventing and surviving a fire in their home review this checklist:

  • Install smoke detectors in key locations throughout the house and keep checking them. Make sure the warning alarm is loud enough for those who have difficulty hearing. Have large, noncombustible ashtrays available in every room for people who smoke. Ensure there are no smoldering cigarette butts before emptying ashtrays.
  • Plan and practice fire drill exits from all areas of the house. Know two ways to reach the ground safely from each room and make sure windows and screens can be opened from the inside. Post the plan so that visitors will know how to escape and the designated meeting place outside of the home.
  • Do not block exits with furniture or enclose windows with iron bars that do not allow escape in case of fire.
  • Check all electrical outlets, extension and appliance cords. Do not overload sockets and make sure that wires are not frayed or exposed. In an older home, have an electrician check that the wiring meets current building codes.
  • Avoid kitchen fires by cleaning your stove exhaust hood and utensils regularly to eliminate grease build-up. Provide good lighting near your stove and always keep a fire extinguisher mounted nearby. Do not wear loose or hanging clothing when working over a hot burner and always use a hot pad or mitt.
  • Space heaters should not be utilized as a main source of heat. Use them properly. Do not place them at exits or stairways where they block the exits or can be tipped over. Never fill portable heaters while they are still burning or are hot.
  • Heating systems and furnaces should be cleaned and serviced once a year to avoid fire hazards. Make sure there is an emergency shut-off switch. If not, have one installed.
  • Dispose of old newspapers, magazines, and rags properly (recycle if possible). Do not store these items near gasoline, cleaning fluid, or kerosene. Keep all flammable materials in a cool, vented place away from your main living areas.