Around 167 people over the age 65 die each year in fires. Poor mobility, weak sense of smell and a reduced tolerance of smoke and burns contribute to these terrible accidents which are often caused by household items such as cookers, candles, coal fires and electric blankets.
How can you help to prevent accidents?
If you have an elderly relative, friend or neighbour who you think might be vulnerable to fire hazards or burning or scalding themselves, help them to stay safe by encouraging them to take the following precautions:-
- Kettles shouldn't be overfilled as boiling water could spill and scald.
- As a safety precaution, they should use coiled kettle flexes or a cordless kettles which are either sprout-filling or jug shaped.
- Have they considered installing a wall mounted heater? They can be safer than kettles.
- Tea and coffee making facilities shouldn't be too far from the living area so hot liquids don't have to be carried far.
- Propose they fit a thermostatic mixing valve which regulates bath water outlet temperature and reduces the risk of severe scalding.
- If they do not have a thermostatic mixing value fitted, when running a bath, they should be careful of scalding - encourage them to run the cold tap first.
- When cooking suggest that they use the rear hot plates/hobs on a cooker and that they turn the pan handles away from the front of the cooker.
- Ensure that hot water bottles they use are of good quality and do not show signs of wear.
- If they smoke, warn them about the dangers of smoking in bed.
- A fireguard should be fitted.
- If they use electric blankets - make sure they are using them correctly and that they are having them checked regularly.
- Older people are at the highest risk for fatal injuries from burns or scalds - four to five times greater than the population as a whole. Pre-existing conditions can often contribute to their deaths. Encourage them to be careful!
- Most importantly, advise them to book them a Safe and Well visit so smoke alarms can be fitted if necessary and also any other potential fire hazards can be spotted.
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