Seniors: What You Should Know

Smoke Alarms

If a fire occurred in your home, would your smoke alarm work?

Don't wait for a fire to find out. Smoke alarms can alert you and your family and provide the critical seconds you need to escape in a fire. Does your home have smoke alarms on each level, especially near sleeping areas? Do you test them monthly? Be sure to change the batteries, with new batteries, twice a year and replace alarms after ten years according to manufacturer's instructions. Remember, only a working smoke alarm can save your life.

What to Do in Case of Fire

Does everyone know what to do in case of a fire?

Practice fire drills at home and have two ways out of every room. Fires are frightening and can cause panic. By rehearsing different scenarios, your family will be less likely to waste precious time trying to figure out what to do. Designate a meeting place outside your house or apartment building that is a safe distance away (a mailbox, a fence, or even a distinctive-looking tree) where everyone can be accounted for after they escape. Decide in advance who will help family members that may need assistance.


Cooking fires are the leading cause of fire injuries and the third leading cause of fire deaths among older adults.

When using the stove, never leave cooking food unattended. If you need to step away, turn it off. Always wear tight-fitting clothing when cooking - a dangling sleeve can catch fire easily. Use pins or rubber bands to secure sleeves and keep the stove top clear of anything flammable such as food containers, towels, pot holders, newspapers, etc.

Call 9-1-1 and DO NOT try to extinguish the fire.

A fire can double in size every 60 seconds and a delay in notifying 9-1-1 can cause further injury/death and property damage.


Improperly discarded smoking materials are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States.

If you must smoke, designate an area to smoke, use large non-tip ashtrays and soak cigarette butts and ashes before discarding. Never smoke in bed, when sleepy/impaired or on medication that makes you drowsy.

Electrical Safety

Don't overload electrical outlets/circuits.

In many older homes, the capacity of the wiring system has not kept pace with today's modern appliances. Overloaded electrical systems create fire hazards. Watch for these signals of overload: dimming lights when an appliance goes on, a shrinking TV picture, slow heating appliances, or fuses blowing frequently. Call a qualified electrician to get expert help. Do not run extension cords under rugs or carpets and replace any that are cracked, frayed or have loose connections.