Senior Citizens are the fastest growing age group of the American population, and one of the groups at highest risk for fire deaths. Based on recent statistics, adults 65 and older also face a risk twice the average, while people 85 and older have a risk that is four-and-a-half times more than average, according to National Fire Protection Association.
Many Senior Citizens have decreased mobility and other health issues that can cause them to have a slower response during a fire emergency. Many older adults take medications or have health conditions which can lead to a slower response or confusion, altering the decision-making process. Such impairments may also lead to an increased likelihood of accidentally starting a fire or not detecting a fire in its early stages.
The Sycamore Fire Departments wants to remind residents that assistance from a family member, neighbor or caregiver may be required to help a senior citizen safely exit the home if a fire occurs. Addressing these issues and having a plan before a fire occurs is essential to the safety of our seniors.
Advice for senior citizens and those helping them from the United States Fire Administration:
INSTALL AND MAINTAIN SMOKE ALARMS
• Make sure smoke alarms are installed on each level of your home, and outside of all sleeping areas.
• Test your detectors monthly and replace the batteries twice a year when you change the time on your clocks to maintain a consistent maintenance schedule.
• Caregivers are encouraged to check the smoke alarms of those who are unable to do it for themselves. The chances of surviving a home fire almost doubles with the initial warning from a smoke alarm.
PLAN YOUR ESCAPE
• Planning for a fire escape around one’s capabilities is the key to fire safety!
• Know at least two exits from every room.
• If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all rooms to be sure they will fit through the doorways effortlessly.
• Make any necessary accommodations, such as providing exit ramps and widening doorways to facilitate a successful emergency escape.
DON’T ISOLATE YOURSELF
• Speak to your family members, building manager, or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them.
• If you live in the City of Sycamore or the Sycamore Fire Protection District, contact your local emergency dispatch center’s non-emergency line at 815-895-7246 to detail any special needs you may have if an emergency should occur. You may be asked to complete a form detailing this information.
• If you live outside of the City of Sycamore or Sycamore Fire Protection District, please contact your local fire department for the proper dispatch center’s non-emergency phone number.
For more information on this topic, please contact James Ward, Sycamore Fire Department Fire Prevention Officer at 815-895-4514.