This is Fire Prevention Week, and knowing what to do in the event of a fire is particularly important for older adults, according to fire officials.

At age 65, people are twice as likely to be killed or injured by fires compared to the population at large, statistics show. And with their numbers growing every year — in the U.S. and Canada, adults age 65 and older make up about 12 percent of the population — it’s essential to take the necessary steps to stay safe.



Safety tips

To increase fire safety for older adults, the Norman Fire Department offers the following guidelines:

• Keep it low

If you don’t live in a high-rise apartment building, consider sleeping in a room on the ground floor in order to make emergency escape easier. Make sure smoke alarms are installed near any sleeping area, and have a telephone installed where you sleep in case of emergency.

• Sound the alarm

The majority of fatal fires occur when people are sleeping, and because smoke can put you into a deeper sleep rather than waking you, it is important to have a mechanical early warning of a fire to ensure that you wake up. If anyone in the household is deaf or hearing impaired, consider installing a smoke alarm that uses a flashing light, vibration and/or higher decibel sound to alert to a fire emergency.

• Do the drill

Conduct or participate in regular fire drills to ensure knowing what to do in the event of a home fire. If someone cannot escape alone, designate a member of the household to assist, and decide on backups in case the designee isn’t home. Fire drills are also a good opportunity to make sure everyone is able to hear and respond to smoke alarms.

• Open up

Make sure all doors and windows in the home can be opened. Locks and pins should open easily from inside. (Some apartment and high-rise buildings have windows designed not to open.) If there are security bars on doors or windows, they should have quick-release mechanisms inside so they can be opened easily. These mechanisms won’t compromise safety, but will enable people to open windows from the inside in the event of a fire. Check to be sure windows haven’t been sealed shut with paint or nailed shut; if they have, arrange for someone to break the seals or remove the nails.

• Stay connected

Keep a telephone nearby, along with emergency phone numbers to communicate with emergency personnel if trapped in a room by fire or smoke.

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