Multigenerational households are on the rise: The number of Americans living under the same roof with at least three generations has doubled since 1980. While these living arrangements offer many benefits, they also present potential fire safety challenges. With that understanding, NFPA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have developed "Fire Safety for Multigenerational Families Living Together," a toolkit featuring tips and recommendations to help increase multigenerational households’ safety from fire.
Multigenerational households may include older adults, very young children and people with disabilities who require added assistance in the event of a fire. So while home fire safety planning and prevention is critical for all families, for households with family members who have specific needs or limitations, advance planning is paramount to ensuring everyone’s safety.
Along with general guidelines for home escape planning, here are recommendations for multigenerational households:
- Install smoke alarms and alert devices to help family members who are deaf or hard of hearing. Alert devices, such as strobe lights, flash when the smoke alarm sounds. Pillow or bed shakers may be useful to wake a person who is sleeping. The shakers are triggered by the sound of the smoke alarm and shake people awake to warn them of a fire.
- Smoke alarms do not reliably wake up children. Older adults may not hear the smoke alarm. Assign someone to help children, older adults and people with disabilities escape.
- Make sure your home has bright lighting in stairways to prevent falls.
Remove clutter to prevent trips and falls and allow for a quick escape.
Install handrails along the full length of both sides of the stairs.
A wealth of free resources on fire safety for multigenerational families, including lesson plans, fact sheets, promotional materials and infographics (in English and Spanish) are available online.