Senior Scene October 10,2016

It is the second week of October, so it must be Fire Prevention Week. This week I am going to relay some information from the Fire Prevention Canada website, Fire Prevention Canada is the national voice of fire prevention education in Canada, and 2016 represents the 20th year they have been spearheading this special awareness week. Statistics show that, on average, fire kills eight people each week in Canada, with residential fires accounting for 73 percent of these fatalities. The theme for this year is: Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.

FIPRECAN have a variety of factsheets that you can access through their website, but this column will focus on Fire Safety for Seniors. The two leading causes of fire deaths and injuries among older adults are smoking materials and the misuse of portable space heaters. Here are some helpful hints for you and your loved ones:

  • Smokers should have a designated area away from upholstered materials, such as the kitchen table.
  • Never smoke in bed while reading – it is too easy to fall asleep and print materials are highly flammable.
  • Sleep with the bedroom door closed in order to provide more time to escape if a fire occurs.
  • Keep space heaters well-ventilated and at least three feet away from flammable materials. Unplug space heaters when not in use.
  • Extension cords are for temporary use only and should not be used with a space heater or electric blanket.
  • Never run electrical cords under a carpet or rug.
  • Smoke alarms are inexpensive and easy to install. Ensure there is a working smoke alarm on every floor of the home and outside every sleeping area.
  • Have a friend or relative test your smoke alarm while you are asleep to ensure you can hear it.
  • Once a month, test the battery by pressing the test button.
  • Once a year, change the battery.
  • To clean the smoke alarm, open the cover and gently vacuum the unit with a soft brush attachment.
  • Replace smoke alarms if they are more than 10 years old.
  • Develop and practice a fire escape plan. Be sure to include all hallways and stairs.
  • Know: two ways out of every room and how to escape from all levels of your home.
  • Ensure all doors and windows can be unlocked or opened.
  • In case of fire – get out and stay out. Never go back into a burning building.
  • Crawl low near the floor to the nearest exit maintaining contact with the wall.
  • Test the door by feeling it with the back of your hand. If it is hot, do not open it. Use an alternative route.
  • If the door and knob are cool, stay low with your shoulder against the door while opening slowly, turning your face away from the door as you open it. Be ready to close the door if smoke and heat rush in.
  • If you are trapped, put as many closed doors as possible between you and the fire, and seal all cracks in doors and windows with towels or bedding, preferably wet towels or bedding if possible.
  • If your clothing catches fire, stop where you are, drop to the ground and cover your face with your hands while rolling back-and-forth to put out the flames.
  • Cool minor burns with cold water.