older wiserFire Safety for Seniors

Older adults are especially vulnerable when it comes to fire risk. As we age our reflexes slow so we are not able to react as quickly. Medical or mobility issues also impair our ability to move or react as quickly as we may need to, medication we take may make us sleepy or forgetful. All of these issues contribute to the fact that seniors in Alberta are at a high risk of dying in a fire.

Seniors' Injury in Alberta are on the rise. For more information download this Alberta Government booklet: An injury-free Alberta in which to live, work and play.

Here are some tips to help keep you safe!

senior cookingCooking is the #1 cause of residential fires in the Province of Alberta and is responsible for 12% of the fire deaths for seniors. Of all fatalities of seniors 65 and older, 26% of them had a disability of some type.

Follow these fire safety tips so you don't become a statistic:

  • When cooking, wear tight sleeves or short sleeves. When cooking with large flowing sleeves, the material may come in contact with the cooking element and ignite.
  • Keep a pot lid handy when cooking. If a pot or pan catches fire, carefully slide the lid over the top of the pot and turn off the heat. Leave the pot where it is until it has cooled. Don't ever try to carry a burning pot or pan outside or to the sink. Never put water on a grease fire! Pouring baking soda or salt on a grease fire may spatter burning oil on you or other combustible materials.
  • Pay attention when cooking. If you have something on the stove stay in the kitchen until it is finished. If you have to leave the room, turn the stove off or bring an item such as a potholder or oven mitt with you to remind you that you have something on the stove.
  • stop drop rollIf your clothing catches fire, STOP DROP and ROLL! Do not run, drop to the floor, cover you face with your hands and roll back and forth until the flames go out. If you have a medical condition or disability that prevents you from dropping to the ground, keep a towel or oven mitt handy and use it to smother the fire.

Cooking with Oil:
If you are using cooking oil, heat it slowly and never leave the pot or pan unattended. Keep close at hand a large lid that would fully cover any cooking vessels on the stove. If the oil or grease should catch fire, the lid can be put over the flames to smother them. Never try to put out an oil or grease fire with water. It will spatter, possibly spreading the fire.

Please watch this video and see what happens when you try to put out a grease fire with water!

aid neededFire escape planning is essential for seniors and for anyone with a disability which may impair their ability to hear an alarm or escape from your home during a fire.

Plan ahead and practice your escape so you can address any possible issues before the arise.

  • Can't crawl on your hands and knees?
  • Not sure if your window opens?

All these should be considered before a fire happens.

escape planDevelop a home fire escape plan today...
It could save your life tonight!

If a fire occurred in your home tonight, would your family get out safely?

Everyone must know what to do and where to go when the smoke alarm sounds. Take a few minutes with everyone in your household to make a home fire escape plan, following the instructions below. Download this escape plan template to help you plan.

1. Draw a floor plan of your home:

Use the grid from the template to draw a floor plan of your home.
You should draw a plan for each level of your home.

2. Include all possible emergency exits:

Draw in all the doors, windows and stairways. This will show you and your family all possible escape routes at a glance. Include any features, such as the roof of a garage or porch that would help in your escape.

3. Show two ways out of every room:

The door will be the main exit from each room. However, if the door is blocked by smoke or fire, identify an alternate escape route, which could be a window. Make sure that all windows can open easily and that everyone knows how to escape through them to safety. If windows have security bars, equip them with quick-releasing devices.

4. Does anyone need help to escape?

Decide in advance who will assist the very young, older adults or people with disabilities in your household. A few minutes of planning will save valuable seconds in a real emergency.

5. Choose a meeting place outside:

Choose a meeting place a safe distance from your home that everyone will remember. A tree, street light or a neighbour's home are all good choices. In case of fire, everyone will go directly to this meeting place so they can be accounted for

6. Call the fire department from outside your home:

Don't waste valuable seconds calling the fire department from inside your home. Once you have safely escaped, call the fire department from a cell phone or a neighbour's home.

7. Practice your escape:

Review the plan with everyone in your household. Walk through the escape routes for each room with the entire family. Use this walk-through exercise to check your escape routes, making sure all exits are practical and easy to use. Then hold a fire drill twice a year and time how long it takes. In a real fire, you must react without hesitation as your escape routes may be quickly blocked by smoke or flames.


  • Plan two ways out of every room, if possible.
  • Hold a fire drill twice a year
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside all sleeping areas

If you live in a high-rise apartment building, contact the building management for information on your building's fire safety plan.
Here is some downloadable information on high-rise escape planning for people with disabilities.

fall downSeniors Fall Prevention

Many Seniors who survive a fall never fully recover. They face chronic pain and reduced mobility which then puts them at risk for being injured or succumbing to a fire.

  • Fact: At age 65, older adults are twice as likely to be killed or injured by fires or falls compared to the population at large.
  • Fact: Thirty percent of people age 65 and older are involved in falls each year, the leading cause of death from unintentional injury in the home.
  • Fact: In the U.S. and Canada, adults age 65 and older make up about 12 percent of the population – and their numbers are increasing.

Remembering When is a Seniors Fire and Fall Prevention program. Remembering When is centered around 16 key safety messages – eight fire prevention and eight fall prevention - developed by experts from national and local safety organizations as well as through focus group testing in high-fire-risk states. Download the Remembering When Seniors Fire and Fall Prevention booklet.

Visit the websites below for more information for seniors injury control & research.
http://www.findingbalancealberta.ca/     www.nfpa.org/safety-information

oven fireFires can easily start in your kitchen. Follow these tips to keep your kitchen safe!

  • Never Leave Cooking Unattended! Never leave home when a microwave oven, stove burner, or oven is on. Keep a close eye on what you're cooking.
  • Keep Your Cooking Area Clean. Many items in the kitchen can catch fire easily including pot holders, dish towels, and product packaging. Keep curtains away from the stove and clean up all spills on the stove top or nearby counters.
  • Clean your oven regularly. Many kitchen fires start because of built up grease.
  • Kids & Pets Should Stay Clear. There is an imaginary kid-free zone one metre around your kitchen stove. Enforce it strictly. Also keep pets from running around underfoot. They might cause you to trip when you're holding or near to something very hot.
  • Always Turn Pot Handles In! It is too easy for a child to reach up and grab or hit a pot or pan handle that's sticking out over the edge of the stovetop. Scalding injuries can be quite serious.
  • Don't Overload Electrical Outlets. This means the notorious "outlet octopus" must be avoided. That's when several electrical cords are plugged into the same outlet. Avoid plugging more than one appliance into an outlet. There should not be more than two operating appliances plugged into the same circuit. Heat generating appliances such as toasters and electric frying pans use a lot of current. If you overload the circuit, it will get hot and possibly short out or catch fire. Have damaged cords or outlets fixed immediately. If water gets into an electrical appliance, have it serviced before you use it again.
  • Watch Your Sleeves. Be mindful of what you're wearing while cooking. Loose sleeves over hot stove burners can catch fire. Wear clothing with snug cuffs or roll up the sleeves. If you store things above your stovetop, your clothing could catch fire when you lean over stove burners to reach up.
  • If a fire starts in your oven or microwave oven, keep the door closed to prevent air from feeding the flames. Turn the appliance off or pull the plug. If the flames don't die out quickly, call 911.
  • Always Be Alert! Don't cook if you're under the influence of alcohol. The same goes if you're drowsy from medication or fatigue.

alarm testSmoke alarms are required on every story of the home - it's the law! They should also be replaced every 10 years, even the electric hardwired ones. There are new units in stores now that combine smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as well that are worth considering.

Test them every month. If you are not able to stand on a ladder or chair, gently push the button with a cane or broom handle.

If your smoke alarms are battery operated, change the batteries when you change your clocks.

If you have difficulty climbing a ladder or a chair, please have a friend or family member install the smoke alarm for you as directed by the manufacturer's instructions. If you have no one to assist you, please contact us.

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