Herts Fire and Rescue Service service have staged a ‘Hazard House’ demonstration to illustrate the fire risks for older people in the home.
Older people can often be isolated, with few people around to look out for their wellbeing. Combined with long term health issues the consequences can mean they are more at risk of being killed or injured in a fire in their home.
In Hertfordshire the average age of a domestic fire casualty is 77.
Fire officers are therefore urging families and the local community to help keep older people safe from fire by looking out for fire risks and checking that their smoke alarms are working. You should look out for overloaded plug sockets, damaged or old appliances. Older people who are hoarders or who smoke are generally more at risk, so it’s even more important to check for hazards in their homes.
Richard Thake, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “This week fire officers set up a ‘Hazard House’ simulation to demonstrate the dangers of fire in the home. I was shocked to see how easily small fires can break out and how quickly they become very serious, especially for older people whose mobility might not be too good.
“Very often, however, these situations can be easily avoided and we are therefore encouraging everyone to look out for hazards in older people’s houses and help them stay safe.”
There are some essential tips about hazards in the home which you can discuss with your older relatives or neighbours to help them stay safe from fire.
• Extinguish all flames such as candles properly and never leave them unattended;
• Put cigarettes out properly and don’t leave ashtrays on or near soft furnishings;
• Never leave cooking or a toaster unattended;
• Keep a safe distance from open or portable fires and always use fire guards • Have a bedtime routine including turning off and unplugging appliances and closing doors.
There are also things you can do yourself to help. Make an escape plan with them and ensure they know what to do in the event of a fire. You should also check they have working smoke alarms, one on every floor of the property, and test them yourself regularly.