When there is a fire in the home, decreased ability to walk, problems with eyesight or cognitive decline may severely limit a senior’s ability to react quickly and safely escape during the emergency. According to the U.S Fire Administration, people over the age of 65 are twice as likely to obtain injuries or die in fires as compared to the rest of the population-at-large.
If your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, has problems walking on their own, or cannot see very well, there are definite precautions that need to be taken in the event that there is a house fire at some point. Using the following tips will help to keep your loved one safe.
If your loved one uses a walking device such as a cane or wheelchair, their normal escape route may no longer be an option for use. So with decreased mobility, you can do the following:
- Check all exits to make sure that they are wide enough for a wheelchair or walker to easily fit through the doorway. Make any necessary adjustments that are needed to accommodate the medical equipment.
- Keep a landline phone by the bed of your loved one. This will allow them to make emergency phone calls if they become trapped. It is also a good idea to keep a list of emergency numbers by their bed as well, as this can save valuable time in case of a fire.
- If your loved one is confined to a wheelchair or the bed, it is a great idea to install a small fire extinguisher made for personal use. Mount it somewhere close to their bed or place it on the wheelchair. Don’t forget to make sure your loved one knows how to use the fire extinguisher properly.
- If an escape is not possible for your loved one due to being confined to their bed, it is advisable to install a sprinkler system. You can also use fire-resistant blankets and comforters as an extra precaution.
If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia, you must prepare for a fire emergency ahead of time. Purchase a book that explains emergency procedures and has pictures that show a step-by-step process for escape during a fire. It is also vital to practice escape routes with a loved one who is suffering from a decline in cognitive ability. Memory tends to improve and decline at unpredictable times for people suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. When you take the time to practice escape routes, and keep doing so on a consistent basis, it is likely to become an instinct which can help to guide the senior out of the home and into safety.