In 2016, Age UK predicted that the number of those aged 65 and over would increase by more than 40% by 2033 to over 16 million citizens. Likewise, the population of people aged over 85 is set to double.
You don’t have to look far to hear news about our country’s “aging population”, with governments and businesses alike becoming increasingly aware of the risks. As the population ages, an increasing number of people living with dementia, sight loss, hearing loss and all the potential challenges of old age is far more likely. For these people, the home becomes an increasingly dangerous place.
Did you know that over half of those killed in accidental fires in the home are aged 65 and over? For people over 80, the risk of dying in a fire is even higher – approximately four times the average.
So, with an increasing number of high risk tenants, higher grades of protection are required.
BS 5839-6: 2013 (also known as BS 5839: Pt. 6) is the key standard for fire detection in domestic premises, and outlines the code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems. This guidance explains that all domestic premises need to be protected to the standard afforded by a Category LD3 system – at least. In short, alarms must be located in all circulation spaces that form part of escape routes.
Furthermore, where vulnerabilities are identified – such as a high risk, elderly tenant – special consideration must be given to specific fire detection measures and warning systems which reflect particular needs.
For more information on BS 5839-6:2013, including a summary of recent need-to-know changes, download our free printable eBook below.
This legislation recommends LD1 or LD2 categories be used in residences for elderly tenants, regardless of whether the building is new or not.
LD1 – Max Protection: Alarms in all circulation spaces that form part of escape routes and all areas where a fire might start, but not bathrooms, shower rooms or toilets.
LD2 – Additional Protection: In all circulation spaces that form part of escape routes and rooms/areas which present a high fire risk.
Social Housing Best Practice for elderly tenants
Ultimately, it is imperative that homes intended for occupation by elderly tenants should be equipped to the highest standards of fire protection possible. As a social housing provider undertaking a thorough risk assessment and ensuring that you comply with existing legislation is the first step in ensuring your protecting high risk tenants such as the elderly.
Low frequency sounders
Specifically designed to provide a greater level of protection than standard smoke alarms, low frequency sounders are more likely to wake high-risk individuals (such as elderly residents with hearing loss).
As we age, our senses become increasingly impaired and, often, so does our ability to remember things. This can be extremely dangerous where cooking is concerned, which is why we strongly recommend installing cooker shut off systems in homes which will be occupied by the elderly. Watch our video below to see how these work.
Strobes and vibrating pads
Where possible, safety alarms throughout the house should be as loud as they can be in order to alert the resident of danger. However, for those with hearing loss or limited physical ability – such as those of advanced age – flashing strobes and vibrating pads can be used in conjunction with regular smoke/CO alarms. The flashing strobe provides a visual warning, whilst the vibrating pad can be placed beneath a pillow, mattress or seat in order to physically alert the individual.
With interlinked systems, all alarms in the home are triggered when one device is activated. For elderly residents, this kind of technology increases the likelihood of them becoming aware when a danger is present, providing the kind of additional escape time that could make all the difference between life and death.
Many of these systems can be installed at relatively low cost – but more importantly, provide the highest level of protection possible. As the aging population increases this need for extra security in the home will simultaneously grow, making it imperative that social landlords, contractors and wholesalers alike are aware of the solutions available to assist the elderly to live independently and safely in their own homes.
For more information on fire safety regulation at home, click below to download our eBook.
- To find out what other fire safety products are avaiable, please see our fire safety measures for adults at risk blog.
- Alternatively, for more information on protecting elderly tenants from carbon monoxide, you can download the FireAngel Carbon Monoxide Awareness eBook here.
- If you would like to find out more about protecting vulnerable adults in the most dangerous room in the home - the kitchen - you can download FireAngel's guide here.