No one wants to plan for an unthinkable emergency like a fire or flood. Plus, many caregivers already spread themselves too thin meeting their loved one’s immediate needs.
Unfortunately, this means that home healthcare agencies, caregivers, loved ones, and even assisted living centers are unprepared for fires and natural disasters.
Fire planning is a crucial component of senior home health.
Here’s how to make sure loved ones who require extra care stay safe in the event of a fire emergency.
Why is Fire Preparedness Important for Home Health?
The elderly have a particularly high risk for becoming victims of a fire accident. The statistics are sobering. Although adults over 65 comprise just 13 percent of the population, they also contribute to 35 percent of all fire fatalities: more than any other segment of society.
The Relationship Between Fire Risk and Senior Aging
The elderly face many situations and challenges each day from standard senior aging putting them at grave risk for injury or death due to a fire. This makes fire planning absolutely crucial to comprehensive senior home health planning.
- An impaired sense of smell, vision, or hearing from senior aging makes it difficult to identify smoke or fire.
- Physical limitations increase their chances of starting accidental fires while smoking or cooking.
- Fatigue may cause a person to fall asleep while smoking or cooking.
- Mental impairment from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other mental health conditions can cause unpredictable or erratic behavior.
- Older adults may be less likely to seek treatment for severe injuries from a fire out of fear of losing their independence which can lead to death or complications.
- Medications and alcohol can cause drowsiness or mental impairment leading to accidental fires and inability to properly respond.
- Poor mobility or disabilities make it difficult for older adults to flee the home in the event of an emergency.
Fire Planning: How to Prepare for the Unexpected
Since standard senior aging puts loved ones at risk for fire accidents, it’s important for caregivers to discuss fire planning with home healthcare aids. Keep these factors in mind when developing an emergency plan.
- Each room should have two available exits such as a door and large window near the ground.
- Keep the floors clean and make sure nothing is blocking or obstructing any exits.
- Select a meeting place for loved ones to go in the event of a fire emergency. Let family members and health aids know about it.
- Test the escape route a few times to ensure loved ones with impairments or disabilities can leave quickly and without difficulty.
- Consider installing a doggy door at each end of the house so loved ones won’t have to worry about finding their pets during a fire.
- Make a detailed list of medications, dietary restrictions, special needs, and doctor phone numbers. Leave it at the agreed meeting location.
- Let neighbors and health aids know about the evacuation plan – especially in cases of memory loss or dementia.
- Remind senior loved ones that you’re here to help. Make sure they aren’t afraid to seek help out of fear of losing independence.
It’s impossible to predict when a fire may start and how a loved one will respond. But with thorough fire planning and patient practice, you can create an evacuation plan to minimize the dangers.
Tips for Reducing Fire Hazards as Part of Home Healthcare and Senior Home Health
It’s hard to identify all of the possible fire hazards in a person’s living environment, but here are some of the most important things to keep in mind.
- Smoke alarms must be up to date, in good working order, and strategically placed around the home.
- Make sure electrical cords do not run under carpets or rugs.
- Avoid using candles and keep space heaters away from flammable materials.
- Keep newspapers and flammable items out of the kitchen. Make sure loved ones stay in the kitchen while cooking.
- Encourage loved ones to quit smoking or only smoke outside – never in bed.
- Electrical outlets should not feel warm.
- Check dryer vents and lint catchers often.
- Fill wardrobes with fire-resistant cotton clothes – avoid polyester and synthetic materials.
- Have health aids regularly check for hazards like stacks of books, space heaters, frayed wires, overworked outlets, etc.
Every person’s individual home setting, daily activities, physical conditions, and mental impairments must be taken into consideration when fire planning.
Intrepid USA goes above and beyond traditional senior home health. Schedule a consultation today to find out why over 25,000 patients and their families trust Intrepid USA every year for compassionate and comprehensive private duty, home healthcare, and hospice services.