When seniors choose to age in place, they must get by with a lot of help from family caregivers and home care providers.
Family caregivers and home care providers assist them with numerous daily tasks to keep them healthy and content. However, the senior’s safety is a big deal, too, and family caregivers need to establish all kinds of plans for various health and safety scenarios. One area that often gets overlooked is creating a senior fire escape plan.
When a fire breaks out at home, it’s extremely important for everyone inside to be able to evacuate quickly. Creating an escape plan for an elderly adult, whether they are home alone or with a home care provider is essential, and the evacuation should be practiced occasionally so that everyone knows what they need to do. Being prepared before an emergency is the best way to avoid injury or loss of life.
The first thing to do is to plan the actual escape route. The fire escape plan should always include two ways out, with the first route as a standard out-the-door option, and the second being through another door or through a window. Walking paths should be free of obstacles so that evacuation isn’t delayed. In a window escape route, family caregivers should identify which windows open easily if one is part of the escape route and that the elderly adult knows how to open it properly.
Part of a fire evacuation plan means establishing a safe meeting place once the senior is outside. Often, the designated meeting spot is at a neighbor’s driveway, a street corner or other easy-to-see landmark. Family caregivers should choose a safe meeting spot and then let seniors and home care providers know where it is. Aging adults should know not to leave the meeting place for another because people might assume they are still inside the burning house and enter unnecessarily.
When setting up a fire escape plan, it’s important for family caregivers to review some of the escape rules with the seniors and the home care providers. It’s important that they know to sleep with the door closed at night, as it can take at least 10 minutes for a fire to get through a door, providing valuable escape time. Seniors should also know never to go back inside for anything once they are out of the house.
Just creating a fire escape plan for an elderly loved one isn’t enough. To truly make it all about safety, the plan needs to be shared with other family members, home care providers and especially the elderly relative themselves. Then, of course, family caregivers should practice it with the aging adult regularly, or at least review it so that there’s no question what should happen. Preparation and planning is the key to ensuring that seniors can utilize a sensible fire escape plan should an emergency arise.