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Fire safety checks for older people: What you need to know
Fire safety checks for older people are vital for staying safe in the home environment, especially at this time of year.
Today, we'll introduce the reasons why older people are at a greater risk of a home fire. Then, we'll give you some tips to help improve your fire safety at home.
Why fire safety checks for older people are especially important
There is a host of reasons why older people are more susceptible to serious house fires, and should, therefore, conduct regular safety checks.
As we get older, our senses may lose some of their original sharpness, making it harder to detect a fire before it has a chance to spread. Mobility issues or mental health might also come into play, which could prevent the fire from being effectively put out.
This risk of an electrical fire or blaze caused by an open fireplace is especially pronounced at this time of year when we're more reliant on heating devices. Simple things such as clothes hung near an electric heater or a spillage on an electric blanket can quickly cause a spark that spirals out of control.
How to check your property and access professional fire services
You have a variety of options when it comes to fire safety checks for older people; some of which you can complete yourself, and some of which you'll need professional support with.
Things you can do
Here are the checks you may be able to conduct yourself:
1. Smoke alarms
Make sure you have at least one smoke alarm fitted on each floor. This alarm should carry the British Standard number BS 5446 and Kitemark.
Check them/clear them of dust on a monthly basis and change the batteries/alarm units periodically (once per year for regular batteries or once every 7-10 years for long-life alarm systems with integrated batteries).
Think about the best route for evacuating the property in the event of a fire. And, ensure there are no blockages or clutter along this route.
Blocks of flats and residential care facilities are likely to have their own fire evacuation plan, which you should familiarise yourself with.
In terms of your appliances, make sure you don't:
- Plug too many appliances into sockets/extension leads
- Forget to check your appliance cables for wear-and-tear
- Leave a pan unattended while cooking
- Obstruct an electric heater (especially with wet clothes)
- Use a hot water bottle with an electric blanket
Also, always use a fireguard where you have an open fire.
Smokers should avoid smoking in bed, or on fabric furniture such as sofas.
Fire safety checks for older people
Many local fire services now offer free home fire safety checks that involve checking/installing smoke alarms, establishing escape routes and looking for other fire risks.
If you have difficulties with hearing or vision, the fire service may be able to provide you with specialist smoke alarms free-of-charge.
There are several other checks to consider:
- Gas ovens/boilers should be checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer
- Electrical wiring should be checked every 10 years by a registered electrician
- Electric blankets should be checked every three years and replaced every 10
If you smell gas at all, or if the pilot light goes out on your gas boiler, make sure to call out a Gas Safe registered engineer right away.
Fire safety checks for older people can be life-saving. Follow these simple steps to get started.