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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Ten-point checklist to keep older people safe

21/01/2016

Friends, relatives and neighbours of older people are being urged to help protect them this winter by carrying out 10 simple safety steps.

"It is the responsibility of each and everyone one of us to help those who may find it difficult to help themselves. We are urging people who have an older friend, relative or neighbour to follow the checklist on the leaflet, ticking off each of the points as they carry them out. The checks will only take a matter of minutes to do but they can have long-lasting and even life-saving consequences for an older person."

The Service is handing out a double-sided card which features a list of home safety checks that can be ticked off when they have been completed.

On the other side of the card, there is information regarding organisations that offer help to older people including the NHS, the falls prevention service, Age UK and Citizens Advice Bureau.

The safety checks included on the pocket-sized leaflet, which will be handed out across the county, are as follows:

• Install smoke alarms for them on every floor of the home and make sure they are tested every week
• In case of fire, make sure they have an escape route and keep it clear
• If they have a chip pan, replace it with a thermostat-controlled electric deep fat fryer
• Make sure the filter in the tumble dryer is cleaned regularly
• Ensure that portable heaters are kept away from curtains and furniture and are not used to dry clothes
• Make sure that electrical items are still safe to use by checking the website www.esc.org.uk
• Make sure that the chimney is swept regularly
• Ensure that all candles are secured in a holder
• Make sure plug sockets are not overloaded
• If they smoke, make sure they use an ashtray

Station Manager in Central Prevent & Protect Dez Stoddart said: "Statistics show that the majority of people who lose their lives in accidental house fires are over 65. Those over the age of 80 are 10 times more likely to die in a fire than those aged 30. The risk to older people becomes even greater during the winter months when temperatures plummet and they become isolated in their homes.

"It is the responsibility of each and everyone one of us to help those who may find it difficult to help themselves. We are urging people who have an older friend, relative or neighbour to follow the checklist on the leaflet, ticking off each of the points as they carry them out. The checks will only take a matter of minutes to do but they can have long-lasting and even life-saving consequences for an older person."

The Service’s call to action is one of many initiatives it is running in order to help some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

It is also part of a ground-breaking project which is being run in conjunction with Public Health England.

Staffordshire is one of just three fire and rescue services taking part 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 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.