NFPA launches updated Steps to Safety program for older adults’ home safety


Share this content


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has unveiled their revamped program aimed at educating older adults about fire and fall safety in the home.

This new initiative, titled “Steps to Safety,” is set to replace the “Remembering When” program, which had been NFPA’s flagship fire and fall prevention curriculum for seniors for the past 25 years.

Changes in the modern landscape

Steps to Safety, similar to its predecessor, centralises its messages around reducing risks associated with falls and fires for the elderly.

However, this newly introduced program takes into account the recent shifts in social, technological, and physical environments.

Addressing the needs of an aging population

According to Andrea Vastis, Senior Director of Public Education at NFPA: “As the nation’s aging population continues to grow, more people are living longer and, in many cases, living independently.”

The updated program strives to reach the elderly in effective ways, “offering solutions that promote healthy aging while reducing the strain on fire departments, EMS services, and the healthcare system.”

Rising risks with age

Statistics show that by the age of 65, elderly individuals have twice the likelihood of facing injury or death due to fires compared to the rest of the population.

This risk increases even further with age.

Additionally, one in three older adults will experience a fall annually, which translates to a significant number requiring emergency care.

Presently, fire services attend more calls for falls among seniors than actual fires.

Features of Steps to Safety

Designed in collaboration with safety experts from the US and Canada, Steps to Safety delivers 16 crucial safety messages.

Half of these messages are dedicated to fire prevention, and the other half to fall prevention.

These messages will be communicated to communities through group presentations, home visits, and the establishment of a resource network.

The program also incorporates an online training curriculum and offers new digital and print materials to encourage consistent learning and behavioural changes throughout the later stages of life.

Localised implementation

The program’s effectiveness lies in its adaptability, allowing local organisations such as fire departments, health agencies, and community groups to tailor the messages according to their region’s needs.

By pooling resources and data, these organisations can determine the best methods to address the safety concerns of their senior populations.

This could range from installing smoke alarms, introducing lock box programs, or other additional services.

Andrea Vastis further emphasised the importance of collaboration, saying: “The approach is one of collaboration, engagement, empowerment, and promoting independence.”

IFSJ Comment

The NFPA’s introduction of the updated Steps to Safety program showcases a timely response to the evolving challenges faced by an aging population.

With the rise of seniors living independently and the inherent risks they face, the need for a comprehensive, adaptable safety program is paramount.

This initiative not only serves to protect older adults but also seeks to lessen the pressure on emergency services.

By collaborating with local organisations and focusing on community engagement, the NFPA aims to make significant strides in fire and fall prevention, leading to safer living environments for seniors everywhere.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox