Seniors' Fire Safety

Older adults are vulnerable to fire injury and death, with smoking and space heaters as the most common causes of injuries and fire deaths among them. The following fire safety tips apply specifically to seniors and older adults.

  • Smoking materials include matches, lighters, e-cigarettes, tobacco as well as cannabis, and are one of the top causes of residential fires in B.C.
  • If you smoke, consider smoking outside and only where it is permitted, and encourage friends or family who smoke to do the same.
  • If you do smoke inside, use large, deep ashtrays. Be cautious when smoking on sofas and couches – a burning cigarette can smolder between the cushions of upholstered furniture and go unnoticed for hours.
  • Properly extinguish and dispose of all smoking materials in large, deep ashtrays. Do not discard of any smoking materials in garbage cans or vegetation such as mulch, planter boxes, potted plants or landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, leaves or other things that could ignite easily.
  • Don’t smoke in bed, or when you are drowsy or impaired by alcohol, cannabis, other drugs or certain medications.
  • Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing.
  • Keep smoking materials, particularly matches and lighters, out of the reach of young children.
  • Avoid smoking if you have consumed alcohol or medications, so that you don't fall asleep while smoking.
  • Only use space heaters that have a protective screen covering the elements.
  • Give space heaters at least one metre of clear space all around.
  • Keep all flammable materials away from space heaters.
  • Do not dry wet shoes, clothing or towels on space heaters.
  • Always turn off or unplug space heaters before leaving the house, or going to bed.

Maintain smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month.
  • When testing smoke alarms, do not stand on a chair or steps. Instead, use a broom handle to press the test button.
  • If you have impaired hearing or vision, purchase and install smoke alarms and alerting devices that meet your needs.

Know your fire escape plan

  • Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible
  • If you wear eyeglasses or take medication, remember to keep them by your bedside in case of emergency.
  • If you live with seniors, help the seniors to escape when practicing your home fire escape plan, and especially during a fire.


Logo of NFPA's Remembering When fire and fall prevention program for older adults

People over the age of 65 are more likely to be killed or injured by fires compared to the population at large. Developed by the NFPA, Remembering When™ contains information needed to conduct a comprehensive fire and fall prevention program for older adults in your community. The program is centered around 16 key safety messages – eight fire prevention and eight fall prevention.

Remembering When program book (PDF, 2.4MB)

Message cards

Group presentation materials

Home visit materials

Training new facilitators

Large print materials