Over the last five years 61% of all accidental dwelling fire fatalities were people aged 60 and over, and more than a third of accidental dwelling fire casualties were also people aged 60 and over. When it comes to age, fire does discriminate.
Although the risk of fire and fire injury increases as you get older there are simple measures that can be taken to keep safe:
Fit and maintain working smoke alarms - you should have one on each level of your home in hallways, plus one smoke alarm in every living room. Consider fitting additional smoke alarms in bedrooms, particularly where persons are bedridden or otherwise vulnerable from fire due to ill health or disability. You should fit at least one heat alarm in every kitchen in your home. The best place for a smoke or heat alarm is on the ceiling. Try and keep them 30cm (12 inches) away from any walls, lights, doors, heating or air-conditioning vents.
All alarms should be ceiling mounted and interlinked.
- Test alarms weekly. A working smoke or heat alarm can give you valuable time to get out, stay out and dial 999.
- Do not remove batteries. If your smoke alarm keeps going off accidentally while you are cooking, do not remove the batteries. Instead move the alarm or change it for one with a silencer button. Heat alarms are ideal for the kitchen.
- Stay safe in the kitchen.This is the area where the majority of house fires start so never leave cooking unattended. If you need to leave the kitchen turn electrical appliances off and take pans off the heat. Make sure you have at least one heat alarm in every kitchen.
- In the event of a fire ‘Get out, stay out and call 999!’ Do not delay for valuables, do not investigate or try to tackle the fire. Use a mobile, a neighbour’s phone or a phone box to call 999. If someone needs to be rescued wait safely outside for the firefighters who have the equipment and training to do it. Never go back in.
- Do not overload plug sockets. One plug per socket is the rule, be careful not to let leads trail over cookers or touch water.
- Get ‘key clever’. Keys for windows and doors should be in an accessible place where everyone can find them so you can get out quickly in the event of a fire.
- Plan your escape route. Make sure you and your family know the quickest way out in the event of fire. Consider an alternative route in case your usual one is blocked.
- Keep candles in secure holders, on a surface that does not burn, and away from any materials that could burn, such as curtains.
- Make sure that electric blankets are turned off and stored flat (not rolled up) when not in use. Never use them with a hot water bottle. Statistics show that fires caused by electrical appliances and electric blankets have the highest rate of injury, with 440 injuries for every 1,000 fires.
Home Fire Safety Visit
We want to make sure your home is as safe from fire as it can be. During a Home Fire Safety Visit we will help you spot possible fire hazards. Firefighters will even install smoke alarms, free, if you need them. The process only takes about 20 minutes, and their advice and help could save your life.
Many of us know a friend, relative or neighbour, often someone living alone, who could be vulnerable. If you do know someone who could be at risk from fire, please tell them about our service. Or even contact us yourself to let us know.
We work in partnership with individuals, families, communities and those providing care and services for older people particularly those living alone or suffering from ill health or disability. Our aim is to allow them to remain safe and independent in their own homes for as long as possible.
To ensure that those who need it have access to the best fire and safety advice. Where fitted, assistive safety technology such as community alarms and telecare monitoring services should have smoke and heat detection included in the package.
For advice about where you can get additional help consider contacting your local authority, housing association, social work department or your local community fire station. Our personnel can assist you in finding assistance.
Their mission is to make Scotland a better place for older people. They have a 24-hour dedicated helpline to support 0800 12 44 222 as well funds for groups and have campaigns on issues that matter to them. They have also produced a factsheet that gives particular fire safety advice.
Need to talk? The Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Helpline is a 24 hour, freephone Scottish service for people with dementia, carers, relatives, professionals, students and anyone concerned about dementia. For more information about Dementia Awareness visit Alzheimer Scotland or freephone 0800 808 3000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.