July 2005 Edition

Fire Safety Checklist

Our parents are moving in with us and we are concerned about their safety. Can you give us any help on safety tips for older adults?           
There is a pamphlet designed for older adults. It is called "Fire Safety Checklist for Older Consumer" and the following are excerpts:

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Older adults (age 65 and over) are twice as likely to die in fires than any other age group. The death rate for those 85 and over is four times the national average. Older people are also at higher risk of injury from fires. The following tips can help protect you and those you care about from fires and burns.
Install and Maintain Smoke Detectors           
Install working smoke detectors on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas. Test and dust each detector monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.           
Smoke detectors have significantly reduced the risk of death or injury from fire. Smoke detectors give people an early warning that allows for early escape. If possible, install smoke detectors away from kitchens and bathrooms to reduce nuisance alarms. To control nui­sance alarms, install detectors with a temporary silencing feature. If you are hearing-impaired, install a detector that alarms with a visual signal. If necessary get someone (a relative, neighbor, or fire department official) to help you test and clean each detector monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
Use Smoking Materials Safely           
Never smoke in bed, while drowsy, or while under the influence of medication or alcohol. Use large, deep ashtrays for smoking debris and let the contents cool before you dispose of them.

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Careless smoking accounts for nearly one-third of the fire deaths in adults over age 70. It is also a leading cause of fire injuries among older people. If you smoke, never smoke in bed, while drowsy or while under the influ­ence of medication or alcohol. Use large, deep ashtrays so smoking materials don’t fall out.
Pay Attention to Your Cooking           
Keep pot handles turned inward and keep cooking surfaces and surrounding areas free from clutter and grease build-up. Use pot holders and oven mitts. Avoid wearing loose clothing with flowing sleeves while cooking. Take a reminder with you if you must leave the kitchen with food cooking on the range top.

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Cooking fires are a leading cause of burn injuries among older people. Prevent fires and burns by being watchful and alert when you cook, keeping pot handles turned inward, not overheating food (especially fats and oils) and keeping cooking surfaces clean. Always use pot holders and oven mitts when opening the oven and handling hot pots and pans to prevent burns. While cooking, avoid wearing loose clothing with flowing sleeves, such as nightgowns or bathrobes. These can catch on fire from a burner. If you must leave the kitchen when you are cooking, set a timer and take a pot holder or wooden spoon with you to remind you that food is cooking. 
Heat Your Home Safely           
Have a professional service all heating equipment annually. Keep anything that can burn or melt away from all heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, and water heaters. Never use a range or oven to heat your home.

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Hundreds of fires start each year when things that burn, such as curtains, cloth­ing, bedding, gasoline, or paint solvents, are placed too close to heaters, fur­naces, wood stoves, fireplaces or water heaters. Store flammable liquids like cleaning solvents and gasoline outside
of your home. Have at least three feet of clearance in all directions around portable/space heaters. Use the proper fuel for all heating equipment. Change filters in furnaces monthly. Keep chimneys clean. To prevent scalds, set the temperature of your water heater no higher than 120°F. All heating devices should be checked and serviced every year by a professional. Use your range or oven for cooking only—never to heat your home.
Practice Electrical Safety           
Have a professional electrician inspect your home’s electrical wiring system at least every 10 years and make recommended repairs. Never overload the elec­trical system. Plug each appliance directly into its own outlet and avoid using extension cords. Have an electrician install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in rooms where water may be present. Install and maintain electrical appliances according to the manufacturers’ instructions.      
Homes more than 40 years old are three times more likely to catch on fire from electrical causes than homes 11 to 20 years old. That’s because older wiring may not have the capacity to safely handle newer appliances and equipment and may not incorporate updated safety features. Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are important electrical safety devices that offer superior protection against dangerous elec­tric shock and also may prevent some electrical fires. Have GFCIs installed in bathroom and kitchen circuits and in other locations where water and dampness may be present. Call a professional electrician to make sure you have the proper fuses, find reasons for blown fuses and tripped circuit breakers, replace old or damaged outlets and install more outlets if needed. You are less likely to overload electrical outlets if you use no more than one high-wattage appliance on a circuit at a time. Extension cords are meant for temporary use only and should be unplugged when not in use. if you see frayed cords on older appliances, have the cord repaired; better yet, replace the appliance altogether.
Know What to Do In Case of Fire.
Practice two ways out of every room in your home. Get out as soon as you discover a fire; do not try to fight the fire or gather possessions. Once out of the house, immediately dial 9-1-1 or your local emergency number for help, preferably from a neighbor’s phone.
Planning what to do in case of fire can make the difference between life and death. You should practice two ways out of every room in your home. If you use a wheelchair or walker, or otherwise might have a problem escaping from a fire, discuss your escape plans ahead of time with your fire department, your family, the building manager and neighbors. Let them know about your special circumstances and ask them to help plan the best escape routes for you.
 Produced by the: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, AARP and the National Association of State Fire Marshals

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia, 30096-6111. You can also E-Mail your questions to us at rodharrison@christianbuildinginspectors.com/.


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Mark Twain


 A Tip Of The Hat To:

Pat Graves

Prudential Atlanta Realty

4390 Pleasant Hill Road

Duluth, Georgia 30096

**** Thank You****