Conducting an open house for older adults in your community can be both beneficial and rewarding
Advertise, advertise, advertise!
Be sure to include information regarding prize drawings and refreshments. Create a “passport” station. Set up learning stations based on seniors’ needs that provide a variety of information that they can use immediately in their daily lives.
Allow partners to hand out coupons and advertisement fliers. Be prepared.
Establish partnerships for the event and have the partners set up stations to distribute information about their services:
Greeters welcome participants, give each one a bag for handouts and a passport card, and explain the passport card system. Give out NFPA's "How to Prevent Fires for Older Adults” brochure.
Suggested signs: “Falls — The Leading Cause of Unintentional Death in the Home”, “Thirty percent of adults age 65 and older are involved in falls each year.”
Materials: Rugs, nightlights, shoes, grab bars, and grasp devices; handouts such NFPA’s “How to Prevent Falls For Older Adults” brochure
Presentation: Falls are the leading cause of unintentional death in the home. Thirty percent of adults age 65 and older are involved in falls each year. Throw rugs can cause tripping and falls — it’s better not to use throw rugs at all, but if you must, use low-pile, nonskid rugs. (Rug liners are not recommended since they can actually make rugs worse.)
Regular eye checkups and proper lighting can help prevent falls. Several types of nightlights are available: regular, light sensor, touch activated, sound activated, clap on/clap off. Sturdy shoes can support the foot/ankle and help prevent tripping and falls. Wearing slippers or socks/stockings without shoes in the home can cause the foot and ankle to become weak and result in slips and falls. Grab bars can help prevent slipping and falls. Grasp devices assist in retrieving items from high shelves and cupboards and prevent falls. Physical fitness can help with muscle strength and stability (demonstrate balance exercises from the National Institute of Health Exercise Guide).
Suggested signs: “Free Blood Pressure Checks”, “High Blood Pressure — The Silent Killer”, “One in Three Adults Has High Blood Pressure”
Materials: Two chairs, small table, blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, informational handouts; partition, taped off area, or separate room if privacy is a concern
Presentation: High blood pressure (HBP) is the “Silent Killer,” usually with no signs or symptoms. One in three adults has HBP, (approximately 74.5 million U.S. adults). Uncontrolled, HBP increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health problems. Easily detected through blood pressure checks at routine doctor’s visits, there is no identifiable cause for high blood pressure in most adults. Risk factors include aging, family history, being overweight, lack of physical activity, diet, and tobacco and alcohol use. Encourage participants to have their blood pressure checked at the station.
Suggested sign: “Cooking Fires Are the #1 Cause of Home Fires”
Materials: Kitchen area or stovetop display, pan, lid, kitchen towel, timer, large spoon, oven mitt, bath robe, button-down sweater or front-zippered sweater or jacket, cooking safety tip sheet.
Presentation: Cooking fires are the #1 cause of home fires, usually due to unattended cooking. When you are cooking, do not wear loose-fitting clothing; roll up sleeves, zip jackets, and button sweaters. (Put on bathrobe and demonstrate how wide sleeves can brush stove burner. Put on button-down sweater- and demonstrate how the corners of a sweater can brush a burner when you are reaching to the back of the stove.) When baking or simmering foods, set the stove timer; if you are leaving the kitchen, take a portable timer with you. If you need to answer the telephone or the door, turn the stove or oven off or place an over mitt on your hand or carry a large spoon in your hand to remind you of the cooking food Never leave frying or broiling food unattended — if you must leave the area, turn the stove or oven off. Turn the handles of pots and pans to the side so you don’t accidentally bump them and spill the contents. A small pan fire can be extinguished by sliding a lid onto the pan and turning the stove off. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cool. (Demonstrate.) Keep towels, dish clothes, and other flammable items away from stove.
Suggested Signs: “Have an Escape Plan and Practice It!”, “Get Out and Stay Out!”
Materials: Escape plan drawing, light colored t-shirt and pillow case, flash light, illustration of individual walking low under smoke, brochures, escape plan grid (PDF, 1 MB)
Presentation: Everyone should have an escape plan and practice it at least twice each year with everyone in home. Visitors, such as children and grandchildren, should know the plan. There should be two ways out of every room in the home: usually the door and a window. Smoke is hot and toxic, so you should get low, below the smoke. If you are unable to escape, go to a window. A light-colored t-shirt, pillowcase, or flashlight can be used at a window to let firefighters know you need to be rescued. If you can get outside, go to your meeting place and call 9-1-1. Examples of meeting places are a tree, light pole, or a mailbox.Never go back inside for anything or anyone—it’s the firefighters’ job to rescue trapped individuals, and it’s your job to let the firefighters know if someone is trapped inside. See information about mid- and high-rise escape planning and planning for people with disabilities.
Suggested sign: “Dial 9-1-1 for Emergencies!”
Materials: Laptop computer, printer, labels, 9-1-1 stickers, telephone with address label, regular cell phones, cell phones for seniors (available at cell phone retail locations)
Presentation: In most areas, 9-1-1 is the number to call for fire, police, or medical related emergencies. If you have to call 9-1-1, state the emergency, the location, your name, and your phone number. Do not hang up until the dispatcher says it’s okay. Often, the dispatcher has questions or may be able to provide helpful information until emergency personnel arrive. For fire and carbon monoxide incidents, leave your home and call 9-1-1 from a neighbor’s home. Because 9-1-1 is not the emergency number in all areas, when you are traveling always ask what the emergency number in that area is. When you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone, the call connects you with someone who will assist you. Cell phones are replacing landline phones in many homes, so everyone should know how to operate a cellular telephone. Cell phones for older adults are available that have larger buttons, easy-to-read text, better sound quality, and a comfortable shape. Have your name, address and phone number listed on or near your phone; in the event of an emergency, you may not be able to remember this information. (Direct participants to an area where personnel will make name/address/phone number labels for them to place on or near their home phones.)
Suggested Signs: “Stop, Drop, and Roll!”, “Learn to Stop, Drop, and Roll”
Materials: Step-by-step photographs of Stop, Drop, and Roll on the behavior card from NFPA’s Remembering When™: A Fire and Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults Program; chair, blanket, handouts;
Presentation: Stop, Drop, and Roll is used when your clothing catches fire. Fire spreads rapidly, so it’s important not to run or even walk if your clothes have caught fire.(Demonstrate step-by-step Stop, Drop, and Roll procedure.)
If you cannot stop, drop and roll, keep a blanket or towel nearby to help you or others smother flames. Cover the person with a blanket to smother the fire. If you use a wheelchair, scooter or other device and are able to get to the floor, lock the device first to stay in place before getting on the floor to roll until the flames are out.
Use cool water to treat the burn immediately for 3 to 5 minutes. Cover with a clean, dry cloth. Get medical help right away by calling 9-1-1- or the fire department.
Important note for station personnel: You should demonstrate the stop, drop, and roll technique but don’t have older adults practice it at your learning station. Some older adults could hurt themselves if they are not in good physical condition. Tell them to use the technique only if they are actually on fire.
Suggested Sign: “Smoke Alarms Save Lives!”
Materials: Smoke alarm, smoke alarm with remote control testing option, 9-volt batteries, handouts; optional: smoke alarm with strobe light (BRK, First Alert, Kidde, or Gentex), Lifetone HL™ Bedside Fire Alarm and Clock. Include NFPA’s “Smoke Alarm Safety at Home” and “Smoke Alarms for People who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing” Safety Hard of Hearing tip sheets
Presentation: Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or with smoke alarms that don’t work. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out. Smoke alarms should be installed on each level of your home, including the basement, inside each bedroom, and in the hallway outside the sleeping areas. Smoke alarms should be tested at least once each month. (Demonstrate how to test a smoke alarm.) For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms at least once each year. If a smoke alarm chirps, the battery is low—replace the battery right away. Although smoke alarms have a 10-year life span, they need to be replaced sooner if they are not responding properly. Special smoke alarms are available with features such as “hush” buttons and the ability to be tested with a remote control.
For people who are deaf. Smoke alarms and accessories are available for people who are deaf. Strobe lights throughout the home are activated by smoke alarms. In bedrooms, a high-intensity strobe light is required, along with a pillow or bed shaker. In some cases, this equipment is activated by the sound of the smoke alarm.
People who are hard of hearing. Smoke alarm accessories are available for people who are hard of hearing. These accessories produce a loud, mixed low-pitched sound. This equipment is activated by the sound of the smoke alarm and is usually installed next to the bed.
Recent research has shown that a loud, mixed low-pitched sound is more effective for waking people of all ages than the loud high-pitched sound of a traditional smoke alarm. As people age, their ability to hear high-pitched sounds decreases.
Choose products that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Research the available products and select one that best meets your needs.
Purchasing Alarms. Smoke alarms with built-in or separate strobe lights can be purchased through home improvement store websites or by searching the internet for “strobe light smoke alarms.” BRK/First Alert, Gentex, and Kidde brands offer this type of smoke alarm.
Smoke alarm accessories such as bed/pillow shakers, transmitters, and receivers are available at www.lifetone.com and www.safeawake.com.
Make sure any smoke alarm or accessory device you use has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
Suggested Sign: Ambulance Tours
Materials: Ambulance or paramedic unit
Presentation: Ambulances are used to transport ill or injured individuals to medical care facilities. Emergency personnel can provide emergency care on the scene or during transport. (Have emergency personnel explain community response times, number of annual ambulance calls/transports, what occurs during an ambulance transport, and when and why sirens and lights are used. Provide tour of ambulance and answer questions. This station can ease anxieties that seniors may have regarding use of emergency medical services and transports.)
Allow partners to host or provide a station for the event: senior meals program, senior center, senior transport services, in-home health care providers, health department services.
Working together with partners to provide a wide array of information and services results in the greatest benefit for event participants and nurtures relationships with the partnering organizations.