Fire Precautions for Elderly


This past weekend an elderly couple in Florida died after their home caught fire. Incidents like this are more common among senior citizens than you might think.

House fires in general increase during the winter months, but the dangers are even greater for senior citizens.

Local fire officials say taking just a few precautions could help save lives when a fire breaks out.

Captain Chris Etheredge with the Dothan Fire Department said, "Each year nationwide we see an increase in fatalities in the elderly and the very young."

Most recorded fatalities that involve elderly residents could have been prevented.

Etheredge said, "Call early, we have five minute or less response time so if we can get notified early we can get in there before it’s too late to extricate them from the home. Many times when we are dealing with elderly fatalities it’s because of delayed notification, they think they can take care of it themselves, but we would rather you call and not need us then not call and the fire gets out of control."

There are some tips to keep in mind now to prepare your home for possible fire outbreaks in the future.

Etheredge said, "insuring smoke detectors are functioning properly especially with the elderly. They are often not capable of checking and testing them twice a year."

If you do find yourself trapped inside a burning home and can't get to an exit here's what to do immediately.

Etheredge said, "Put a towel under the door to keep smoke out and let us know on 911 where you are in the home so we can get you out quickly."

It's also a good idea to have an action plan in place in case a fire does break out...many parents and grandparents don't discuss an exit plan in advance and officials say taking just a few minutes to do so could make a big difference.

Etheredge said, “An effective action plan, just knowing how to get out. Often times when you have a smoke filled environment you become confused and we promote drills with children more than adults."

Officials say your action plan should include at least two exits

There are specially designed smoke detectors that have strobe lights attached to them for the severely hearing impaired. Remember smoke detectors are designed to wake you from a sleep so it's important to check to make sure they are free from dust and working properly so they can wake you if a fire breaks out.

To sign up to have fire fighters come inspect your smoke detectors and make sure they are working properly you can call 615-FIRE and leave your name, number and address and a fire fighter will call you back to schedule a visit.

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