In my last post, I talked about indoor fire hazards that are specific to the changing of the seasons. But there are some general safeguards that should be implemented in any senior’s home regardless of the season. Here are eight suggestions for seniors, caregivers, or concerned friends.
1. Make a fire escape plan with your senior and give it a practice run so that they know how to get out of their home safely in the event of a fire. They may say it feels silly, but practice makes perfect…and safe.
2. Once you have a plan in place – and preferably a plan with options based on multiple scenarios and sources of potential fires – make certain that the paths to the fire exits are not blocked.
3. Check throughout the house to see that smoke alarms are placed within the air flow of every floor of the house – including the basement. This goes for carbon monoxide detectors as well.
4. Especially if the house is older, hire a reputable electrician to check out the wiring. If fuses have been blowing with any frequency or if there are any new appliances that may be drawing more current, this is critically important.
5. I talked about portable heaters in my last posting, but beyond even discouraging those, be very careful around any flammable liquids your senior may have around the house. Keep the containers away from space heaters, water heaters or any source of heat/flame.
6. Without a doubt, a Chicago senior living near the lake (and anyone else familiar with brisk winters) will be wearing sweaters around the house. Ask them to be careful to roll up sleeves while they are at the stove top to avoid their clothing catching fire.
7. While at the stove top, encourage the same safety steps one uses when there are children in the house; turn pot handles toward the back of the stove to avoid sleeves catching on them. Get pot holders also, but be careful that they do not unduly hamper easy handling of pots.
8. Finally, consider installing timers on stove tops, coffee makers, counter top ovens or other appliances so that they turn off after some elapsed time. This avoids fire accidents precipitated by forgetting to turn them off.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago, and providing the best in Chicago senior care services. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.