Fire plan- Upon starting a new case you need to formulate a fire escape plan. In facilities, know where the nearest exit doors and stairwells are, when going to activities and the dining room etc. look around and be aware of the nearest exit. Be aware that you will not be able to use elevators in case or fire and it is dangerous and can be deadly to do so. If power is cut off to the elevator you will be trapped, the elevator could also bring you to the floor where the most intense fire is making escape less likely. Always exit using the stairs. In a private home make a mental plan for escape from each room in the house. Be sure the doors and windows you choose are accessible, check for burglar bars, doors and windows that are nailed or painted shut that will hamper your efforts to escape.
Check for safety hazards that can cause a fire,
1. inadequate ventilation around an oxygen concentrator
2. dirty or clogged filters on the oxygen concentrator
3. frayed electrical cords
4. overloaded outlets
5. paint or other flammable materials around the heater
6. forgetful clients smoking in bed or on upholstered furniture
7. space heaters
8. smoking around oxygen
9. unattended candles
10. unattended fireplaces
11. clutter around a open gas flame heater
12. clutter on the counter near the stove
13. forgetful clients leaving the stove on
Having a fire extinguisher in the kitchen area is a good idea but should only be used on a small localized fire if it does not quickly extinguish the fire, GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. If the fire is spreading or there is oxygen in the house GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and then call 911 from a neighbor’s house. Do not go back in a burning house for personal possessions or to call for help. ALWAYS TELL THE FIRE DEPT IF THERE IS OXYGEN IN THE HOUSE.
The elderly or clients with poor circulation have a high potential for burns. Since they have poor circulation and poor sense of feel, they can be burned using a space heater by placing their feet too close to the heater and not realizing that they are being burned. Also use caution around hot water bottles, heating pads and electric blankets for the same reason, check the skin regularly during use for redness. Be sure electric heating devices are turned off and unplugged when not in use.
Use caution while cooking with the elderly, make sure they are not wearing loose clothing that can catch on fire while they use the stove. Be sure the stove is in an off position after use. Also be sure that paper and other clutter is not left next to the stove or near space heaters.
The elderly or ill will sunburn faster than normal. be sure to limit time in direct sun and have the client use sunscreen.
Burns should be flushed with cool water never use butter, petroleum jelly or oil’s on fresh burns- Call 911 for any burn greater than first degree.
Carbon Monoxide is an odorless tasteless gas that is the LEADING CAUSE of accidental poisoning death in the United States. Carbon monoxide is an inhaled poison, some sources of carbon monoxide are:
1. A faulty heater in the home or workplace
2. Automobile exhaust- running a car in a closed garage will build up carbon monoxide.
3. Gas leaks from a stove, gas dryer or hot water heater – chemicals are added to natural gas used in the home to give it a “gas odor” that can be detected, carbon monoxide does have an odor by itself.
4. smoke inhalation
5. poor ventilation from a wood burning stove or fireplace
Remember that aside from natural gas with added odor there is no warning sign for carbon monoxide gas in the home. Sometimes there is slow leak of carbon monoxide from the heater or woodstove- Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic the flu with headache, sleepiness, muscular weakness, dizziness or a drunken feeling. Skin color may range from bluish to cherry red, the lips also may turn cherry red. If you think you and your client are being poisoned by carbon monoxide GET OUT OF THE HOUSE into fresh air and call 911. Carbon monoxide poisoning causes lack of oxygen to the body tissues causing brain and heart muscle damage and if not reversed DEATH. Paramedics and the hospital staff treat carbon monoxide poisoning with 100% oxygen. NEVER CALL 911 FROM THE HOUSE, GET OUT FIRST. Be aware of gas leaks in the home and a gassy odor especially in the fall when the heat first comes on, it is important to have the heater serviced and checked for leaks annually.
Do not start the car in a closed garage open the door before starting the car and do not close the door until the car is turned off.
Crimes affecting the elderly-
In the home- Elderly persons are more vulnerable to crime in the home due to decreased strength, poor vision and hearing. They also frequently live in deteriorating neighborhoods where the crime rate is higher.
Prevention of crime in the home:
1. Use only a first initial and last name in telephone listings and on mailboxes
2 Do not open the door to strangers even with a chain lock. Chain locks are not sturdy and the door can easily be forced open. If there is no peep hole,
encourage the family to install one if the elderly client is alone in the home.
3. Lock all doors and windows
4. Keep shrubs and plantings cut down around windows and entry ways so an
intruder will not have a hiding place and can be seen by passersby if he is
trying to enter a home.
5, Do not allow strangers into the home to use the phone.
6. Store valuables in a locked box or safety deposit box at the bank.
7. Photograph valuables and keep them in a relative’s home or a safety deposit
8. Know the neighbors and report any unusual activity around the home.
9. Do not allow mail, newspapers and other deliveries to build up in the driveway
Con Artists-The con artist makes a living exploiting others He is usually a “ NICE GUY” who befriends his victim until he breaks them down and makes his “ sale” he drains bank accounts etc and does not deliver what he promised. Con artists are not usually violent and are very mobile moving from town or state to state working his con. The elderly are good targets for the con artist as they are more trusting of people. The con artist can drain banks accounts, insurance policies, home titles and other assets.
TIPS TO DETECT A CON-
1. “ This is a limited time offer only good this week” or a similar claim. If it is a legitimate there should not be a time limit
2. There is no local address or phone number
3. There is no yellow pages listing
4. Scheme is TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE- get rich quick or get something for nothing
5. A contest requiring you to give a bank account draft or credit card number or social security number
6. Someone comes door to door offering to repair a roof or SEAL a driveway, if repairs are needed the homeowner should initiate the call to a reputable company.
7. Many requests will come in mail for donations to companies and charities that are not legitimate. The elderly mail millions of dollars in donations to phony charities every year. If you see many requests in the mail or the client says they are sending money to many different “charities” report it to the office or the family who is usually not aware that the client is draining their resources to a con.
You can teach your client to be safe in the home and avoid crimes against the elderly but you can not make decisions for them. If you notice anything that does not seem right call the office and/or the family and report it.
Oxygen in the home-
Home oxygen is very common it is delivered by an oxygen concentrator, an oxygen tank or rarely liquid oxygen.
Safety tips for home oxygen
1. Do not allow smoking in the home with oxygen in use
2. Keep the oxygen source and the client on oxygen at least 5 feet away from open flames such as a gas stove or heater.
3. Do not place the oxygen source in a laundry room near the dryer or a gas heater
4. Do not use oils or Vaseline to lubricate an oxygen tanks
5. Do not use non water soluble oils or lubricants on the client who is using oxygen.
6. Be sure to clean the filters on the oxygen concentrator every visit or daily,
washing it in soapy water rinsing and drying and replacing on the machine.
7. Keep the oxygen concentrator away from the wall to allow air circulation and
prevent overheating and fire hazard.
8. Oxygen supports combustion, which means fire will burn faster and spread
quickly in an oxygen rich environment. If there is a fire GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and then call 911. Always tell the fire dept there is oxygen in the house.