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Fire Safety for the Elderly: detecting and escaping a fire

Sadly, elderly people are more likely to be harmed in a fire. This is due to difficulties hearing the alarm and evacuating the building.

Sorting your smoke detectors

Problems with sight, hearing and mobility can sometimes mean you won’t know if a smoke detector has been activated. It also makes it difficult to check your detector is working. If you have difficulty hearing: • Get a detector that has a strobe light • Link the system to a vibrating detector you can place under your pillow • Ensure you have alarms on every floor of your home • Have a detector fitted in your bedroom • Link detectors so that if one is activated, they all go off • Ask a neighbour, friend or relative to help you test it each week If you have trouble seeing: • Put a noticeable coloured sticker on your detector test button so you can see it • If you still struggle, ask for help If you have mobility issues: • Ask for help testing your smoke alarm if you need it • Or you can get easy access detectors fitted to your wall

Plan your emergency evacuation

Mobility, hearing and sight issues make it difficult to evacuate a building if there’s a fire. Especially since during a fire, the dark smoke released makes it even tougher to see. This being the case, it’s incredibly important to create an evacuation plan and practice it. • Think about all of your possible escape routes • Practice them until you feel confident using them day or night • Keep the route clear so you won’t trip over • Make sure the route is well lit • Consider placing tactile markers along your escape route to lead you to the exit

If there’s a fire

• Get out, stay out, and call 999 • If you’re unable to call 999 yourself, ask a neighbour for help Elderly people holding hands

If you can’t escape

If you are ever in this situation: • Stay in a room that has a window • Keep the door shut • Ideally, the room you choose should be at the front of the house • Block the bottom of the doorway with bedding to stop smoke from entering • Open your window and call for help • If you have a whistle handy, use this to get attention

Other precautions

In case there is an emergency, you should keep the following items by your bedside: • A charged phone you can use to call for help • A torch for lighting the way out • A set of keys you might need • Mobile aids you need to escape

Before you go to bed

• Make sure your exit routes are clear • Close all doors inside your home, to stop fire from spreading photo credit: sparkle glowplug via photopin cc

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