Firefighters in Lewes are beginning a new drive to help keep people safe in their homes. Hundreds of letters are being distributed in and around Lewes in the coming weeks, encouraging people to get in touch if they would like advice or know someone who might be vulnerable to fire.
They are also working with Lewes Seniors forum to support a range of events to help improve cooking safety.
It comes as East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service marks Ageing Safely Week and UK Older People’s Day this autumn.
Run by the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), Ageing Safely Week takes place from 29 September to 5 October 2014, with UK Older People’s Day on 1 October.
Statistics show that the risk of dying in a fire for those aged 65 and over is more than twice as high as the average risk for all ages. And with an ever-increasing older population – 23% of the UK will be aged 65 and over by 2035 – activities to help older people prevent fires and keep themselves safe are likely to form a growing part of the fire service’s work over the coming years.
Home Safety Visits
Lewes Borough Commander Garry Collins said: “Home Safety Visits are an important part of our efforts to keep our most vulnerable residents safe. Our specially trained teams visit people’s homes looking at everything from kitchen safety, electrical safety, gas safety, open fires, smoking, escape plans and bedtime routines. We will identify any possible dangers and give you advice on how you can reduce the chances of you and your family getting hurt or having a fire.”
Close call – case study
Dave Amiet carried out a Home Safety Visit in June in Lewes – a visit which helped prevent a fire. He described what happened: “I fitted a smoke alarm in the attic room. The room is only used when the occupiers’ daughter or visitors stay. Whilst in the room we noticed the burn mark on material near a window. If I had not carried out a Home Safety Visit that day the occupier may have lost the top floor of her house.”
It’s believed a glass souvenir had reflected sunshine onto the material, acting as a magnifying glass and scorching the fabric.
Fiona, who lives in the house, said “I was puzzled. At first I wondered whether my daughter had been burning a candle without my knowledge. Then I realised that the scorch marks were only on one layer of the material. It reminded me of using a magnifying glass in the sun to burn holes in paper.
I looked at the nearby window sill and realised that there was an upturned glass about 2 feet away from the scorch marks. It dawned on me that the summer sun had been streaming through the window all day long. I asked Dave whether it was possible for the sun to shine through a double glazed window, through the glass and burn the material. He confirmed that this was what must have happened.
I was shocked that the material had been smouldering – and we had no idea that this had been going on. I realised that the material could have caught fire, and very quickly spread to set the whole roof space alight. We would not have known until it was too late. The fire would also have spread into our neighbour’s roof space - which is a child’s bedroom.
I could not believe that one ornament had the potential to cause so much damage - including loss of life. We were very lucky that I had decided to ask for our fire alarms to be checked.”
She says she has learnt some useful tips to keep their home safe.
“I have taken the ornaments off south facing window sills. Our smoke alarms were out of date and we did not have enough. We now switch off all electrical sockets at night. I have removed a multi socket adaptor from our kitchen. We shut downstairs doors at night. I removed aerosols from under our boiler. I bought and installed a carbon monoxide alarm”
She is thankful for the visit, advice and new smoke alarms: “I think that it is well worth the time and money. Preventing fires is infinitely better than being called out to find people’s homes and possessions being destroyed and people suffering from serious, life-threatening injury. Fires can start in all types of buildings: new and old. Smoke alarms save lives.”
Get in touch
If you would like to find out more about our Home Safety Visits and who is eligible for them, please get in touch.
Tel: 0800 177 7069