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Wood Stove Safety Tips To Help Loved Ones Keep Seniors Safe

Seniors over the age of 65 are three times more likely to be injured or lose their life in a home fire than younger people. Home fires are more likely to occur during the winter, when various heating methods are being used. Wood stoves create a pleasant atmosphere, heat the home well, and are commonly seen in senior’s homes, but they can present risks. If you have family, such as elderly parents, who are vulnerable and use a wood stove, there are some precautions you can take to help keep them safe and give yourself some peace of mind.

Regular maintenance and cleaning

Regularly maintaining and cleaning wood stoves can help to keep older relatives safe. Ideally, this should be done by a professional who can also inspect the flue for any problems, and make sure that everything is working as it should. Creosote can build up in the wood stove and chimney, and will need cleaning thoroughly. This should be done at the end of each winter, or whenever your loved ones are done using their wood stove for the year, and at least once during the winter while it’s being regularly used. You may need to arrange regular maintenance for seniors in case they forget or are unaware that it needs doing. 

Prioritize safety

Safety should always come before anything else when warming the home. In some circumstances, the risks that a wood stove presents outweigh the benefits, and opting for alternative heating solutions can be a better option. For example, a senior with dementia may leave their wood stove unattended or play with it out of confusion, or they may have a physical illness, like arthritis, that makes it difficult for them to manage a wood stove. If they live with someone else who can take responsibility for the wood stove then it’s not as big of a problem, but for seniors living at home alone it’s important for their loved ones to assess the risks and how safely their wood stove can be used. Assistive technology can give you peace of mind if your loved one lives alone, as they can call for help easily if something goes wrong while they're using the stove.

Precautions family can take to protect seniors

There are plenty of things loved ones can do to reduce the risk of a fire or injuries from a wood stove. Placing it on a fire-resistant base will reduce the chance of hardwood or carpeted floors becoming hot and catching fire. Ensuring any wood used for burning is dry and well-seasoned, which usually takes about two years, helps to minimize the amount of creosote and tar that builds up in the wood stove and chimney, as well as reducing the amount of smoke produced. Logs should be kept away from the wood stove, as stacking them next to it can increase the chance of a fire. Seniors may benefit from having a fireguard in place to reduce the risk of them falling into the fire or the temptation to go near it. This can be particularly helpful if someone else in the home is responsible for the wood stove and there’s no need for seniors to touch it at all.

Seniors can safely use and enjoy their wood stove to warm their homes, but loved ones can take some precautions and follow basic safety tips to reduce any risks and give themselves peace of mind throughout the winter.

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