Firefighters are urging residents to spread a little sunshine on ‘Blue Monday’ and visit an older or vulnerable person to ensure those most at risk are safe, warm and well.
“It’s important that older people are keeping warm and are doing so safely. This means using fire guards, not having heaters too close to combustible materials such as furniture and clothing, not leaving heating appliances, including electric blankets, turned on overnight or unattended."
Head of Prevent and Protect Jim Bywater
Cold weather can be isolating and with temperatures set to plummet, the Service is encouraging residents to check up on vulnerable relatives, friends or neighbours.
‘Blue Monday’, on January 18, is said to be when many people feel depressed in the aftermath of the Christmas and New Year break. Older people, in particular, may become more isolated and lonely when the influx of visitors over the festive season has died down and they find themselves alone.
In the time it takes to boil the kettle, smoke alarms can be tested, simple safety checks made and questions about wellbeing asked.
Those over the age of 80 are 10 times more likely to die in a fire than those aged 30 which is why prevention work is vital.
Head of Prevent and Protect Jim Bywater said: “It’s important that older people are keeping warm and are doing so safely. This means using fire guards, not having heaters too close to combustible materials such as furniture and clothing, not leaving heating appliances, including electric blankets, turned on overnight or unattended. We’ve sadly seen too many fatal fires involving older people over the last few years where some form of heating method or appliance was to blame.
“Slips trips and falls are a common cause for injury for this age group particularly when snow and ice is present. If you’re going shopping and you have an older neighbour or friend, why not offer to do theirs as well?
“These may seem like small gestures but they could potentially save someone’s life.”
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is currently taking part in a ground-breaking project with Public Health England.
It is one of just three fire and rescue services involved in the ‘Winter Pressures’ pilot which benefits people aged 65 and over along with vulnerable residents and those with complex needs.
As well as reducing the risk of a fire, they aim to decrease health risks such as falls, loneliness and isolation which will, in turn, result in a reduction of people attending A&E, suffering broken hips and experiencing depression.
It has also teamed up with colleagues from North and South Staffs Age UK, Age UK Stafford and Age UK Burton to run the SAfER – Sustained Action for Evidencing Reduction of Risk – scheme.
Firefighters are using evidence from a range of data sources in an attempt to reduce excess winter deaths, A&E admissions and demand on acute services while carrying out extended ‘Safe and Well Checks’ in the homes of older people.
The Service is urging older people who have not yet benefitted from a safe and well assessment to book one as soon as possible by calling 0800 0241 999, texting 07528 983101 or visiting www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/bookyourhfrc.asp
During the HFRC visits, crew members or trained technicians check every room in a property for potential fire hazards and speak to residents about their everyday behaviour in the home. Using this information, they try to identify anything that may increase the risk of a fire. They can also fit new smoke alarms.