MCFRS News Release
Older Residents can be More Vulnerable to Fire Dangers
There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire. It's not a question of luck. It's a matter of planning ahead, especially if you or a loved on has mobility issues.
J. Paul Thomas, Chairman of the Montgomery County Senior Citizen Fire Safety Task Force says, "With fire incidents significantly increasing during this holiday season, it is essential that senior citizens and their families be mindful that the leading causes of fire deaths in Montgomery County are improperly discarded smoking materials, unsafe kitchen and cooking practices, and misuse of electrical appliances."
Every Home Should Have at Least One Working Smoke Alarm
Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It's inexpensive protection for you and your family. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. A working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Chairman Thomas adds, "Our most vulnerable senior citizens of Montgomery County, particularly those aging in place, are at highest risk for fire injuries and death during this holiday season. Leading causes of fire deaths in seniors include improperly discarded smoking materials and unsafe kitchen and cooking practices."
Prevent Electrical Fires
Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.
Use Appliances Wisely
When using appliances follow the manufacturer's safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.
- Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
- Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread.
Affordable Home Fire Safety Sprinklers
When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable - they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.
Plan Your Escape
Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.
Caring for Older People
Every year many senior citizens die in fires. In the last few years a disproportionate number of senior aged residents over the 65 years have died in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially potentially unsafe because many live alone and can't respond quickly.
"During this holiday season of increased fire incidents, it is essential that family members and neighbors of our vulnerable Montgomery County senior citizens living alone, assure that their smoke alarms and safety equipment are operating properly," says Mr. Thomas.
For a free home safety evaluation in Montgomery County call the Home Safety hotline at 240.777.2276 to schedule a time.