Fire Prevention and Risk Management for Independent Living Facilities

The aging population of the US is growing, which means that senior living facilities are likely to see an increase in admissions. The more residents in place, the higher the need for specialized risk management for independent living communities. You need to ensure that protocols are in place to protect your staff, property and operations so that accidents, claims, or any damages don’t prevent you from providing your residents with the best possible care.

Gradual loss of senses will likely increase the potential for danger

As we age, our senses, including sight, touch, hearing, and smell all tend to decline. In addition to this, physical abilities are often reduced as well, making certain tasks, including lifting, bending, and stretching likely to become more difficult. This potentially can leave people incapable of putting out a cooking fire due to their physical limitations.

Another concern is that judgment and reaction time slows as well as we get older. As a result, the ability to respond and act quickly can become diminished. Many elderly people are on medication and that can also affect their ability to make decisions quickly.

Many tenants may suffer do to the fact that they may be alone when an accident happens, such as a fire breaking out while cooking, and there may not be others around to help.
Given these changes in perception, along with diminished physical abilities and judgment calls, this could end up being a recipe for disaster.

To protect your property, tenants, staff and visitors from a loss due to kitchen fires, the following safety precautions should be enacted:

  • Each tenant should be assessed to assure it is safe for him or her to operate cooking equipment
  • If the pilot light goes out on a gas stove there is the potential danger of leaking gas, but an electric stove typically has an indicator light alerting that the range is still hot or turned on
  • Keep all combustible materials, such as dishtowels, plastic utensils and paper towels, away from the range surface
  • Placing a sign on the wall reminding the tenant to check that they’ve turned off the range before they leaving or going to bed
  • Electrical circuits in the kitchen should not be overloaded by plugging in too many appliances

There a certainly many other issues to consider as part of your risk management for independent living facilities plan. Create a checklist of exposures and have staff proceed with creating a safer environment for all residents.