If you have elderly friends or relatives who live on their own, you may want to take steps to ensure they are as safe as possible from house fires. Ideally, you should check the batteries in their fire alarms and make sure they know how to exit their homes in more than one place.
On top of that, you should make sure they have a fire extinguisher. To ensure they can use the fire extinguisher easily, keep these tips in mind.
1. Position the Fire Extinguisher in an Easy-to-Reach Spot
Many elderly people have some degree of mobility impairment, and they may not be able to easily bend or stretch to access a fire extinguisher that is under a counter or stored up high. Make life easier for your loved ones by helping them to mount the fire extinguisher in a place that is easy to reach.
For instance, if you are worried about kitchen fires, you may want to hang a fire extinguisher right next to the stove.
2. Opt for a Lightweight Extinguisher
Additionally, when choosing the fire extinguisher, opt for a small one. Many elderly people aren't able to lift as much weight as they could in their younger days. If they cannot easily handle the fire extinguisher, they won't be able to put out a fire if it starts. A lightweight option is safer and more effective.
3. Enlarge Instructions and Labels
Sometimes when someone is in an emergency situation, they panic and forget what to do. In these situations, the instructions on the side of the fire extinguisher can be critical. However, as people age, they often experience reduced visual acuity.
To ensure your loved one can see the instructions, you may want to reprint them in larger print and then attach those new, easy-to-read labels to the extinguisher. You may also want to hang a sign that reminds your loved one of the PASS method of using a fire extinguisher. That stands for pull, aim, squeeze and sweep.
4. Attach Something to the Pin
Speaking of pulling the pin, if you are worried that your loved one may have dexterity issues that make that step difficult, you may want to explore alternatives. In particular, to make it easier to pull the pin, you may want to attach a string and a larger handle to the pin. Then, your elderly loved one just has to pull on that and the pin will come out.