Safety Tips for Seniors


Senior adults are the fastest growing segment of the population. Approximately 13% of all Americans are over age 65. Statistically, persons in this age group are twice as likely to die a fire related death than the general population. Persons age 75 and older are three times as likely to suffer a fire related death and persons age 85 and older are four times more likely. The three leading causes of home deaths among the senior population are:

  • Trips and falls in the home
  • Fires caused by portable space heaters
  • Smoking and cooking fires sixty percent of fatal falls in the senior population occur in the home, and falls account for 87% of all bone fractures in the elderly.
  • Have at least one working smoke alarm
  • Test the smoke alarm once a month
  • Change the battery once a year
  • Have a working light outside your front and back doors
  • Have emergency information readily available
  • Clearly label all medicine

In Case of Fire

  • Know where the exits are
  • Practice getting out safely
  • Crawl low under smoke
  • Call 911 from a neighbor's house

If Your Clothes Catch on Fire

  • Stop, drop and roll or smother the fire with a blanket, towel or rug
  • If you get burned, seek medical attention


  • Use a large non-tip ashtray
  • Empty ashes often
  • Dampen ashes before emptying into a garbage can
  • Empty ashes into a metal container
  • Do not smoke when using oxygen
  • Do not smoke in bed

In the Bathroom

  • Use non-slip rugs
  • Have a grab bar, rubber mats or non-slip strips in your tub or shower
  • Do not have electronic items plugged-in where they could fall into water (like a bath-tub, shower or sink)

In the Kitchen

  • Keep lids near by when cooking
  • If your pan catches on fire, carefully slide a lid on the pan and turn off the stove
  • Wear clothes with short or close-fitting sleeves, when cooking
  • If you leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off the stove

In the Living Room

  • Use electrical outlets whenever possible, not extension cords
  • Extension cords should be used on a temporary basis and must be UL approved
  • Use furniture with sturdy legs
  • Keep the floor clear of obstacles, so trips and falls are avoided

In the Bedroom

  • Keep floor uncluttered to prevent trips and falls
  • Keep house keys, eyeglasses, a flashlight and a telephone next to your bed

Concerns for Seniors with Disabilities

Some of the alternative emergency recommendations for seniors with disabilities include:

  • If a persons clothes catch on fire and the person is unable to "stop, drop and roll" to smother the flames, he or she can use a blanket, rug, towel, etc. to smother the flames
  • In case of a fire not in the disabled persons apartment or in the nearby vicinity, or if the persons mobility is impaired and are unable to exit, the suggestion is to signal from a window by hanging a towel, sheet or rug near the window or shine a flashlight at the window
  • If the person is able, put a rug, towel, sheet or blanket at the bottom of the door to help keep out the smoke