Fires claim lives, cause irreparable injuries to human beings as well as animals, and also damage property. The issue of fire safety is a serious concern for everyone. Fire safety can be described as a set of precautionary measures taken to avoid damage to life and property, in the event of a fire. Some major causes of fire hazards are:
- Incorrect installation of wires
- Improper use of electrical appliances
- Explosion of inflammable substances
Apart from these, there are numerous other small and major factors which may cause fire. According to a survey carried out by the United States Fire Administration, very young children and the elderly people are at a higher risk of grievous injury due to fire. These two groups form almost 33-34% of the total population. It, therefore, becomes necessary to inform them about fire safety.
There are fire departments in the United States that give fire safety tips, conduct fire safety workshops in schools, in order to create a general awareness with regards to fire safety for kids, and safety measures to be taken in the event of a fire. Like kids, the elderly people are also at a high risk of getting affected from fire, therefore there are many things to be understood, while dealing with fire safety for the elderly.
Problems faced due to the debilitating factors of aging are the major causes why elderly people are more prone to injury in the event of fire.
- Elderly people tend to forget things, such as blowing out candles and switching off electrical appliances, such as electrical heaters, while going to sleep or stepping outside their homes.
- They are often under some sort of medications or on bed rest and therefore, cannot escape fire quickly.
- Sometimes, the elderly fail to detect fire, on account of visual or hearing disabilities.
- Some also wish to follow a calm and quiet lifestyle and therefore, prefer to stay alone, preferably in the outskirts of the city. This is good from their health point of view, but in the event of a fire, they might not get any external assistance to get them out of the fire safely and quickly.
- The number of fatal accidents in the past due to fire is the major cause for concern. Many elderly have faced fatal accidents at home, while cooking or while using wood stoves.
- Elderly people prefer to reside in older houses, which many times have damaged or improper wiring which is another cause for fire.
Events of fire can be avoided on following some precautionary measures. Here are some tips.
Aging causes the elderly to forget small things in daily life. Therefore, due to some distraction they might sometimes forget to turn off the stove. Care should be taken that the stove is properly turned off. This can be done by sticking a note near the stove, saying "Turn off Stove". Anything kept on the stove should also be immediately removed and kept aside, till the time the stove is unattended.
Though, smoking can be dangerous in old age, some elderly people have the habit of smoking, especially before bed time. In such cases, it is necessary to put off the cigarette, before going to sleep. A reminder note can be stuck near the sofa, couch or bed, saying: "Extinguish the Cigarette". Emptying and cleaning the ashtray is also advised, as sometimes, a cigarette might still be left lit in the ashtray.
It is necessary to use electrical appliances certified by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), as these appliances are safety ensured. Use of such products can help to avoid incidents of fire caused due to electrical appliances. Use of electric heaters at places that can get wet should be avoided.
It is also necessary to install smoke detectors or fire alarms systems in the house and check them on a regular basis. These useful gadgets help in detecting smoke by sounding an alarm and therefore, fire preventive actions can be taken.
The first step towards ensuring safety is proper fire safety awareness. The above safety precautions should be taken by the elderly and the young alike, as fire is not partial to any particular age group. It ravages everything that comes in its path and anything that gets trapped inside it. The community should take steps to ensure that elderly people are protected from fire hazards and lead a safe and peaceful life for the rest of their years.