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Fire-Rescue Department

Fall & Fire Prevention

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department offers this Fall and Fire Prevention advice to Seniors, following the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) "Remembering When" Program.

How to Prevent Falls

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show that falls are the leading cause of death from unintentional injury in the home. But you don't have to be a victim. The following eight Remembering When tips can help keep you safely on your feet.

Exercise Regularly

  • Exercise regularly to build strength and improve your balance and coordination.
  • Ask your doctor or health care provider about the best physical exercise for you.

Take Your Time

  • Being rushed or distracted increases your chance of falling.
  • Get out of chairs slowly.
  • Sit a moment before you get out of bed.
  • Stand and get your balance before you walk.

Clear the Way

  • Keep stairs and walking areas free of electrical cords, shoes, clothing, books, magazines, and other clutter.

Look out for Yourself

  • See an eye specialist once a year. Poor vision can increase your chance of falling.
  • Improve the lighting in your home.
  • Use night lights to light the path between your bedroom and bathroom.
  • Turn on the lights before using stairs.

Slippery When Wet

  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
  • Install grab bars on the wall next to the bathtub, shower, and toilet.
  • Wipe up spilled liquids immediately.

Throw Rugs Can Throw You

  • Use only throw rugs with rubber, non-skid backing.
  • Always smooth out wrinkles and folds in carpeting.

Tread Carefully

  • Stairways should be well lighted from both top and bottom.
  • Have easy-to-grip handrails installed along the full length of both sides of the stairs.

Best Foot Forward

  • Wear sturdy, well-fitted, low-heeled shoes with non-slip soles. These are safer than high heels, thick-soled athletic shoes, slippers, or stocking feet.

How to Prevent Fires

People age 65 and older are twice as likely to die in a home fire as the population at large. But this high risk can be greatly reduced by following simple fire prevention rules. The following eight Remembering When tips can help protect you and your loved ones.

Provide Smokers with Large, Deep Ashtrays

  • Wet cigarette butts and ashes before emptying ashtrays into a wastebasket.
  • Never smoke when you are lying down, drowsy, or in bed.

Give Space Heaters Space

  • Keep them at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including you.
  • Unplug heaters when you shut them off, leave home, or go to bed.

Be Kitchen Wise

  • Wear tight-fitting or rolled-up sleeves when cooking.
  • Use oven mitts to handle hot pans.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • If a pan of food catches fire, slide a lid over it and turn off the burner.
  • Don't cook if you are drowsy from alcohol or medication.

Stop, Drop, and Roll

  • If your clothing catches on fire: Stop (don't run), drop gently to the ground, cover your face with your hands and roll over and over to smother the flames.
  • If you cannot do that, smother the flames with a towel or blanket.
  • Immerse burns in cool water for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • If burns are severe, get medical help immediately.

Smoke Alarms Save Lives

  • Have smoke alarms installed outside all sleeping areas and on every level of your home.
  • Test your smoke alarms once a month by pushing the test button.
  • Replace the smoke alarm battery twice a year. When you change the clock, change the smoke alarm battery.
  • Make sure everyone in your home can hear your smoke alarms.

Plan and Practice Your Escape from Fire

  • Know two ways out of every room in your home.
  • Make sure windows and doors open easily.
  • In a fire, get out and stay out.

Know Your Local Emergency Number

  • Remember the number for emergencies is 9-1-1.
  • Once you've escaped a fire, call the fire department from a cell phone or neighbor's phone.

Plan Your Escape Around Your Abilities

  • Have a telephone in your bedroom to call 9-1-1 in case you are trapped by fire.

Download our free safety tip sheet. (PDF)