Prevention and Education


Fire Safety for the Elderly and Those With Special Health Needs

Decreased mobility, sight, hearing or cognitive capabilities may limit a person's ability to take the quick action necessary to escape during a fire emergency. People over the age of 65 are twice as likely to suffer injuries or lose their lives in fires compared to the population-at-large, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

If your elderly loved one has Alzheimer's or dementia, problems with mobility, or is vision or hearing impaired, there are certain precautions that need to be taken in the event of a house fire. These precautions go above and beyond the traditional fire safety guidelines for all families.

Here are some fire safety tips for elderly people with special needs, provided by the U.S. Fire Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

Mobility impairments

If your elderly loved one uses a cane, walker or wheelchair – or is in a cast due to an injury – traditional escape routes may no longer be viable. One-quarter of victims with physical disabilities were unable to act to save themselves during a fire emergency, according to the U.S Fire Administration.

Blind/visually impaired

The most important thing a blind or visually impaired person can do to improve his or her chances of surviving a fire is to be prepared ahead of time.

Hearing impaired

Conventional smoke alarms that sound during a fire aren't effective for someone who is hard of hearing.

Alzheimer's or dementia

If your relative has Alzheimer's or dementia, know that even cognitively impaired people oftentimes have an innate understanding that something is wrong during an emergency, and may be more clear-headed than you would imagine.

Regardless of their disability, all elderly people should live in a home with working smoke alarms and sprinkler systems. A working smoke alarm can reduce the risk of dying in a fire by as much as 60 percent, FEMA says.

Practicing escape plans is also vital for all elders. Knowing their escape plan is one of the most important steps elders can take to save their life in a fire. Plan the escape around your loved one's capabilities. Know at least two exits from every room. Make sure your loved one can unlock all doors and windows.

Be Safe!

Elizabeth Martin
Public Education Officer

Fire Safety Education

West Point Fire Protection District is proud to assist in educating our communities in fire safety. It isn't just the children at the elementary school who can benefit from fire safety education. Did you know that nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes without working smoke detectors? And during winter months, one of the leading causes of home fires is due to heating equipment.

Every year families lose their homes and possessions to wildfire. These losses can be minimized if homeowners take preventive measures and learn how to protect their property. And something as simple as making your address visible during both day and night can assist firefighters in finding you faster in an emergency.

Fire safety education is for everyone. If you or your organization or group has questions or would like to have a fire safety visit, please contact us.


Return to top