Lisa Conway, One Senior Place – Special to FLORIDA TODAY

This is a Q&A feature provided by One Senior Place, a marketplace for resources and a provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families, located in Viera.

Q: Is my jar candle really a fire hazard if I’m just taking a nap?

A: Temperatures have finally dropped below 80 degrees, so it’s officially winter in Florida.

Along with the refreshing change of the season, it’s time for a reminder about fire safety in the home.

Many thanks to Brevard County Fire Rescue District Chief, James Conway, for his help with these tips.

Space heaters

Portable space heaters are great for heating small areas when used wisely.

Make sure the unit is placed on a level, nonflammable surface at least 3 feet from items such as drapes, bedding or carpet.

Never, ever leave a space heater unattended. And it should automatically turn off if the unit falls over. If your space heater doesn’t do this, replace it.


Cooking (or frying) incidents are the leading cause of house fires.

Ruining dinner will be the least of your worries if a fire breaks out in the kitchen.

Remain nearby while cooking and use a timer. And if you’ve been drinking or feel sleepy, leave the cooking to someone else.


Are you a senior smoker? Smoking is the No. 1 cause of home fires that kill older adults.

Never light up when you are lying down, drowsy or in bed.


Candles are another hot topic (yes, I just did that).

They create a nice ambience and can smell amazing, butNEVER leave candles unattended (that includes napping).

And of course be careful with placement near combustibles.

Flameless candles are a great option.

Cords and outlets

Another common hazard this time of year are overloaded, outdated or damaged extension cords.

If the extension cord becomes hot during use, it is a warning sign that it may be overloaded.

Discard damaged or old cords. They can rapidly overheat and start a fire.

Smoke detectors

Fire safety experts agree: working smoke detectors are a must for your home.

Test them and replace the batteries regularly.

Replace all the smoke detectors in the house every 10 years.

More than half of all fire-related deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarm.

Back up and read that last sentence again.

Do you have a plan?

Lastly, have a plan.

Take a moment and think about how you would escape if a fire breaks out.

Can all your windows and doors be easily opened?

Who will grab the cell phone and who will help vulnerable family members?

Practice your plan. And if a fire should occur, GET OUT!

In Brevard, the Office of Fire Prevention will conduct free home fire safety surveys.

Or, call One Senior Place toll free at 866-706-9386 for more information on senior fire safety.

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One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and a provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. To submit a question, send an email to or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at

Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services in Viera.