Fire Safety in Seniors’ Homes

Fire Safety in Seniors’ Homes

time icon 4 min read update icon Nov. 26, 2019


Older adults may be more concerned about increasing safety around new or worsening health conditions, but they should not forget about other more common threats, such as fire or carbon monoxide.


Most older adults recognize the inherent threat that fire poses and have always had fire detectors on hand. When circumstances change, however, there could be a need to revisit fireproofing the home.

In the case of the stay-at-home senior, he or she may want to test a device more regularly or pair their current sensors with a new security monitoring system. Medical alert systems also offer older adults the option to program the local fire department into their local contacts.

Regardless of how a senior wants to re-fireproof their home, he or she should be aware of just how vulnerable they might now be when it comes to fire, smoke and carbon monoxide. 

Ways To Re-Fireproof The Home

Despite the various lessons on fire safety that one encounters in grade school, few older adults have revisited the idea of having an escape plan in the event their fire or smoke detector alerts them to an emergency. Nearly 37 percent of home-based fire deaths are actually caused by faulty alarms and equipment. In order to avoid such outcomes, it is recommended that seniors revisit the basics for fireproofing their homes. 

This might include performing stop-drop-roll drills, ensuring they can open all windows and doors to escape in a timely manner, and ensuring they have ready access to a phone. This is where having a medical alert system that is paired with fire or carbon monoxide detectors could pay huge dividends.


  • Bundling:  Seniors that are worried about their ability to escape in the event of a fire should look first to invest in a medical alert device or system that can be activated automatically through fire sensors to alert local emergency should there be a rapid change in temperature. If an older adult already has a home-based medical alert system, then he or she might want to invest in fire sensors and place them in strategic locations like kitchens or workshops.
  • Hobbies:  Many seniors will want to get back to their favorite pastimes or try something new during retirement, which might include cooking or working in the yard. No one should walk away from open flames in the kitchen or the backyard, but sometimes distractions occur and result in accidents. Thus, seniors will want to make sure, through monthly testing, that they can still hear a smoke detector in all areas of their home, and know how to evacuate just in case.
  • Habits:  Seniors that smoke might want to double check that they are taking safety measures to avoid fires, or avoid smoking in the house if possible. Additionally, if someone in the home is now using oxygen, then avoiding smoking in that area could prevent greater damage.
  • Routines:  Seniors may want to make good use of space heaters or cooling fans in order to save on utility bills, but are cautioned to do so wisely. This means not overloading outlets or daisy-chaining electrical cords. If you are worried about how to use these items safely, a conversation with an electrician may bring key information and peace of mind.

Even though fire safety might seem like a no-brainer, there might be new factors to consider when re-fireproofing the home of a senior. Latches for doors and windows may be more ‘sticky’ than before, so devising a new escape plan could be critical. Seniors with medical alert devices and systems may want to inquire as to whether they can add fire, smoke, security and carbon monoxide detectors onto their current plan so as to maximize all-around safety in the home.

Kate Papenberg - Senior Advisor

Kate is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.