Fire Prevention Preparedness for Seniors

By on August 22, 2015

By Jasmine Dyoco–


Older adults over 54 are at higher risk for fire injury and death for a variety of reasons including slower reaction time, medication that slows them down, and the possibility they live alone and cannot be helped.16 As such, they need to take many steps to protect themselves in case of a fire and prevent it from happening except in the most extenuating circumstances.

Some steps seniors can take to prevent fires in their homes are:

  • Install an additional smoke alarm in the home and keep them in good shape.
  • Wear close-fitting sleeves and shirts when cooking.
  • Do not overuse electrical outlets.17
  • Do not leave hot pans unattended.
  • Put lids over stovetops when not in use.
  • Do not smoke around oxygen tanks or in bed.
  • Plan a fire escape from your home or apartment.18

If an older adult lives alone, they should talk to their neighbors about their fire escape plans in case a fire breaks out, so neighbors will be able to help them in case they cannot get out. It is also a good idea for older adults to live on the bottom floor or near an exit of apartment building for easier escape during a fire. Be sure to also have emergency providers keep your records on file for special needs, if you have any, in case they need to come out during a fire to your home.19


In case of a fire, seniors should have several things prepared so that they are not caught unaware. They should have a phone or a TTY/TDD device next to their bed on a nightstand or end table within reach to call for help. Eyeglass, keys and hearing aids, if needed, should also be on the nightstand for easy access. If you smell smoke and need to access the kitchen or living room, a lamp or light switch should be easily within reach to avoid tripping or failing. Be sure to keep stairs and hallways clear for quick exit during a fire as to avoid getting trapped by burning debris.20

To also prepare for a fire or any other disaster, you should post a list of relatives or medical doctors near the phone or on the fridge who should be contacted in case something happens during the fire where you are injured. Any kind of special equipment you use should also be easily accessible for yourself and the emergency personnel to get to you if they need to get inside. Anyone who might need to help you, like nurses, family or neighbors, should know how to find and use these items in case they need to assist you during a fire as well.21 It is also a good idea to practice your escape plan several times and know more than one escape route in case the first is blocked for whatever reason.


After a traumatic event like a house fire, older adults will often take longer to recover and return to normalcy. Some of the most common signs that people will see and need to be aware of in older adults after a fire include:

  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Fear of being placed in a senior care facility
  • Withdrawal
  • Apathy
  • Anger
  • Grief22

It is important for them to have a strong support network whether it comes from family, neighbors, friends or their local clubs and organizations. If they do not, often seniors will start to decline in health and mental stability, which could lead to hospitalization or other major problems in the long-term. Family members and friends should help them return to their normal routines and be there for them to talk about the experience. The more they work through the trauma, the easier it will be for them to return to normalcy.


Originally posted on Home Advisor.

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Fire Prevention Preparedness for Seniors