Fire safety is especially critical for older adults because they are at the greatest risk among all age groups for injury and death by fire.
Fatality rates for Americans, 65 and older, are more than twice the national average.
For those over 75, the rates are three times the national average.
The three leading causes of home deaths for older adults are smoking accidents, faulty or misused heating equipment, and cooking accidents.
How can you reduce your risk of falling victim to one of these causes?
* Never smoke in bed or when drowsy from medication. Use deep ashtrays and keep them off furniture arms and other unstable surfaces.
* Douse cigarette butts with water before throwing them away or dispose of them in a metal container.
* Keep space heaters at least three feet from anything that burns and out of entrances and doorways.
* In the kitchen, shield yourself from steam when uncovering food to prevent scalding.
* Wear clothing with close-fitting sleeves or secure your sleeves so they are not likely to come in contact with burners.
If your clothing does catch fire, smother the fire with a heavy coat or blanket or by rolling on the ground if you are able.
* Use a timer or handy kitchen item like a potholder to remind you to check on cooking in progress.
* If you are interrupted while cooking, turn off the burners.
* Don't let grease collect in your broiler, stove, oven, or exhaust fan duct.
* Have on hand a multipurpose fire extinguisher (Type ABC) and know how to use it.
Most importantly, have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area.
They have been shown to reduce your risk of fire death by half.
* Early detection is important if you need to escape from a burning structure.
Have your glasses, a telephone, and walking aids close to your bed so you can respond quickly.
Washington Township Fire Department Fire Marshal Alan Perkins submitted the Smoke Signals column.