Smoke alarms could be lifesaving for seniors

Having a fire escape plan is recommended for people 65 and over.
Having a fire escape plan is recommended for people 65 and over. KRT

It can happen in a matter of minutes — your home becomes filled with fire and smoke and you have to get out.

And with seniors dying in fires more than other age groups, fire safety should be a priority for people 65 and older.

October is National Fire Safety Month, and it’s a perfect time for South Mississippi seniors to make a plan.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mississippi has the highest number of fire deaths in the U.S. and seniors 65 and over are twice as likely to die in a fire as someone younger.

One of the main things anyone of any age can do is install and maintain smoke detectors.

With many fires starting while people are asleep, smoke alarms are the first response to home fires.

The National Fire Prevention Association recommends testing smoke alarms at least once a month.

A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet from the stove.

Special smoke alarms also can be purchased for people who are hard of hearing.

Smoke alarms should be installed in every room where people sleep.

Maintaining a smoke alarm by changing its batteries is an important part of any fire safety plan. A great time to plan on changing your batteries is on Saturday, Nov. 5 — the night when people move the time back an hour.

Having a fire escape plan also is an important tool for seniors. The NFPA recommends finding the best way to escape your house during a fire and doing drills so that everyone in the house knows where and how to evacuate.

It also is important to put the plan in action as soon as a fire alarm sounds — when you hear the fire alarm, that means you need to evacuate and go outside as soon as possible.

What you need to know about smoke alarms

  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home.
  • Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  • Test your smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • There are two kinds of alarms. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It is best to use of both types of alarms in the home.
  • When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.
  • Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.

Source: NFPA