The short, cold days and long, dark nights of winter inevitably mean that we will all spend a little more time at home trying to keep warm and out of the elements. Sadly however, this time of year also sees an increase in the number of accidental house fires for us and it is older people, living alone or perhaps who also suffer with poor health who unfortunately are more at risk.
This winter we’re asking you to help us look after those most vulnerable in our communities. If you know a neighbour, family member or friend who’s over 65 and living alone, why not pop round and check they have a working smoke alarm? It might be that they need someone to test it is working for them if their mobility is poor, and of course if they don’t have one you can put them in touch with us by either calling us on 0800 169 11 25 or by referring them through our website.
Often there are early warning signs that someone is at risk from having a fire, which if spotted early enough we may be able to reduce or remove.
So what kind of things do I need to look out for?
1. Are they a smoker? There’s nothing wrong if someone does want to smoke at home, but if there appear to be burn marks around places where they smoke, either on the carpet or on the arms of armchairs for example then they could be putting themselves at greater risk of having a fire. Smoking related fires account for nearly 1/3 of the fire fatalities that we see here in Lancashire.
2. Are there overloaded plug sockets that you can see? Cube adapters in particular can be somewhat risky as they are easily overloaded and the weight can sometimes mean it pulls away from the wall, risking arcing.
3. Keeping warm is important at this time of year, but the rising cost of fuel sometimes sees people turning to electric or gas heaters to help warm a room instead of using the central heating. If you spot any heaters on your visit, have a quick look at their overall condition: are the wires in a good condition, is it very old, is it sat too close to combustible materials like fabric chairs, newspapers, curtains etc.?
4. Is their hearing ok? Do you think they could hear their smoke alarm if it went off? If you know that they wear hearing aids for example, ask them to take them out for a moment and try testing their smoke alarm. It’s best if you can do this when they’re in another room. If they say they struggled we would advise you to ask them to contact us.
4. Are escape routes clear from obstructions? Would they be able to easily get out of the property in an emergency?
If you notice any of these issues or are concerned about the occupants ability to get out in an emergency it's worth seeing if you can refer them to us for a free home fire safety check. You can do this by either calling us Freephone on 0800 169 11 25 or by visiting the HFSC booking page of our website and registering for a visit on there.