Not only are residential fires more frequent during the holidays, but they are also costlier and deadlier than any other time of the year. Keep your senior loved one safe by raising awareness about fire safety during the holidays. Conducting a home safety audit is a great way to do so.
If you aren’t sure what risks to look for, we have a few ideas to help.
Conducting a Holiday Fire Safety Audit in a Senior’s Home
- Christmas tree safety
Christmas tree fires are rare; however, when they do occur, they are more serious. A tree can engulf an entire room in flames in a matter of seconds. Here are a few tips for seniors to prevent Christmas tree fires:
- Pick a fresh tree. Fresh trees are far less likely to catch fire than older trees. When picking out your tree, look for one that is bright green and free from shedding needles.
- Don’t put your tree near heat sources. This includes fireplaces, candles, and heat vents.
- Keep your tree well-watered. A well-watered tree doesn’t catch fire as easily as a dry tree. Make sure to keep the tree base full of water.
- Light safety
Lights are another common cause of holiday fires. Here are a few tips for seniors to safely decorate with lights:
- Use appropriate lights when decorating. The box should indicate if they are meant to be used indoors or outdoors.
- Purchase lights that have been tested in a lab by the UL or ETL/ITSNA. This will help ensure they are safe.
- Throw out any damaged lights.
- Turn off the lights before leaving the house or going to sleep.
- Don’t overload electrical circuits. Most older homes aren’t equipped to handle the increase in electricity we use during the holidays. Be safe by limiting the number of appliances to one per outlet.
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions for how many light strands you can connect. Stringing too many can fry the adapter and cause a fire.
- Holiday clutter
Having too much stuff is a fire hazard many people don’t think about. Clutter can be life-threatening in the event of a fire.
Paper, boxes, and clothing are extremely flammable. Accumulating too many combustibles can increase the risk of starting a fire, or act as fuel to existing fire.
Clutter can also affect a senior’s ability to escape if a fire does occur by:
- Blocking escape routes like windows and doors
- Increasing fire loading and weight of items, causing structural damage or a building to collapse
- Increasing the risk of falling and not being able to get up in the event of a fire
- Increasing the risk of getting trapped under falling items
These can greatly threaten elder safety and lead to frequent trips to the emergency room. When decorating this season, try not to overdo it.
You can reduce accidents associated with holiday clutter, including falls, by being mindful of where you place extension cords and making sure not to block hallways or exits.
Cooking is the number one cause of holiday fires. Cooking fires often occur because of the increase in distractions and trying to multitask. This can significantly threaten elder safety.
Here are a few tips to avoid a cooking fire this season:
- Don’t leave food unattended.
- Don’t cook with hanging sleeves.
- Don’t deep-fry your turkey.
- Keep anything that can catch on fire away from the stovetop. This includes potholders, paper, plastic bags, and food packaging.
- Use a timer.
If you are concerned about your or your loved one’s ability to prevent or escape a fire, it may be time to consider assisted living. One of our experienced senior care advisors can help you explore your senior housing options. Our support and guidance are always free. Contact us today at 888-514-6461!