Older Adults Fire Safety

Fire Safety Tips for Older Adults


  • If you are age 65 or older, you are your own best insurance against fire and burn injuries. Older adults are at a greater risk of being injured or killed from fire or burn injuries than other adults.
  • Be prepared. You must take particular care to be as well prepared as possible for emergencies due to fire.
  • Safe smoking habits are high on the list of sound fire safety practices! Never smoke in bed. Use large untippable ashtrays. Make sure cigarettes and all hot ashes are completely out before disposing of them.
  • Space heaters can get hot enough to ignite nearby drapery, paper or clothing. Keep heaters at least three feet away from combustibles. Always turn the heater off before going to bed.
  • Older adults need all the warning opportunities available. Install smoke alarms at every risk location; at each sleeping area, in the basement, the garage, and each level of your home. Use alarms with especially loud signals or flashing lights. Test them each month and replace the batteries twice a year.
  • Take care in the kitchen; the kitchen is a high-risk area for fire. Cooking carelessly can be dangerous. Never leave cooking foods unattended and always turn the pot handles in to avoid accidental spills. Use a timer with a loud buzzer alarm to remind you when burners or the oven need to be turned off. Use kitchen mitts or pot holders for protection from burns. Never wear loose fitting clothing around the stove. In case of a grease fire, use a lid to smother the flames. Never use water.
  • Plan your escape. Know two ways to escape from every room! Practice to avoid confusion in an emergency. Remember, during a fire the breathable air is close to the floor, so crawl low under smoke. Once you get out, stay out and call 9-1-1 from a neighbor's home. Keep your glasses, flashlight and keys by your bed.
  • Get help. If you can't get out, don't panic. Use the telephone if you can, to call for help, or signal from a window to attract attention to your location. Have a neighbor check on you in an emergency. Test the doors for heat. Be sure the doors on your escape route are safe to open by testing for heat. First press the back of your hand lightly against the door. If it feels hot, do not open it. Use your alternate route.
  • Your clothing begins to burn or smolder, don't panic. Stop walking or running so you won't fan the flames. Get down on the floor quickly, then cover your face with your hands and roll over and over to smother the flames. Cool burns with cold water and seek medical assistance.
  • After you have successfully followed your escape route and are safely outside, get as far away from the building as you can. Never go back inside, not for anything or anybody!
  • Make sure you have ensured your safety at home by knowing what to do in case of a fire.