According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) people over the age of 65 have a 2.5 times greater risk of dying in a kitchen fire than the general population. Cooking is one of the leading causes of fire in the home, FEMA says, accounting for thousands of injuries and deaths each year.

Knowledge and awareness are the keys to preventing fires. Never leave food that is cooking on the stove unattended. Never leave the kitchen — even for a short time — when food is frying, grilling, or broiling. Don’t leave the house if food is simmering, baking, or roasting.

Keep pot handles turned inward. When handles are turned outward, or even to the side, they can be easily bumped, causing the pot to spill or fall over. Heavy pots and pans are an accident waiting to happen – especially if the pan is full of grease, which can easily ignite if spilled. Two handled pans allow the senior to lift and maneuver hot heavy pans with more stability.

Keep cooking surfaces and surrounding areas free from clutter. Many cooking aids can be combustible. Use pot holders and oven mitts, but keep them away from the stovetop when not using them. The accumulation of grease on kitchen appliance hoods and in exhaust systems can lead to disaster. Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup, which can start fires.

How this can help seniors:

Don’t give up your love of cooking
Seniors don’t have to give up their love of cooking just because they’ve lost some mobility or mental capacity. The key is to provide a safe environment for them to cook in. Giving seniors something to look forward to is one of the most important aspects in their care.

Better Nutrition
Cooking your own meals allows you to choose what goes into your food. You can pay attention to eliminating calorie-dense additional ingredients or limiting your fat intake. Choosing your ingredients is an opportunity that fast food simply doesn’t offer in the way home cooking does. Not only do you know your food better when it comes to ingredients, you can serve better portions.

Cooking has many benefits
Mental health professionals are beginning to use the culinary arts as a form of therapy for a wide variety of mental illnesses. Not only can cooking help feed you, it can provide numerous physical, emotional and mental benefits.

Quick tips for ensuring a safer home for seniors:

Tip #1 – Avoid being a target for burglary. Never let strangers know that you live alone or that you are home alone.

Tip #2 – Avoid preventable slips and falls. Remove all carpets from stairs and staircases to prevent slipping.

Tip #3 – Check your home safety equipment. If your smoke or carbon monoxide detectors are more than 10 years old, it’s time to replace them! Remember that carbon monoxide is a deadly, odorless, colorless gas – you cannot smell it or see it. Having a working carbon monoxide detector is crucial to senior safety!

Tip #4 – Seatbelts protect lives. Always wear your seat belt – this is particularly important for senior safety.

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