Senior Scene October 9, 2017

Fire Prevention Week runs from October 8-14, 2017. This year’s theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” Smoke and fire spread fast. There is no time to figure out how to escape AFTER a fire starts. That is why it is so important that everyone has working smoke alarms in their home and that they practice a home fire escape plan with everyone in their household BEFORE there is a fire.
If a fire occurred in your home tonight would your family get out safely?
• Test your smoke alarms by pushing the test button. Smoke alarms should be installed on every storey and outside all sleeping areas.
• Sit down with everyone in your home and discuss how each person will get out in a fire. Practice your escape plan with everyone in the home.
• Know two ways out of each room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
• Help those who need it! Determine who will be responsible for helping young children, older adults, people with disabilities or anyone else who may need assistance.
• Have a meeting place outside, a safe distance from your home. In case of fire, everyone should go directly to this meeting place to be accounted for.
• Close doors behind you as you leave.
• Get out; Stay out. When the smoke alarms sound, get out immediately and call 9-1-1 from outside using a cell phone or from a neighbour’s home. Never re-enter a burning building.

Here are some simple tips for seniors to avoid becoming a frightening fire related statistic:
• If you smoke use large, deep ashtrays and preferably confine your smoking to the outdoors. Never smoke in bed.
• Do not reach out for danger! Wear tight-fitting sleeves or roll up your sleeves when cooking and do not reach over a hot burner. Always remain in the kitchen and “supervise” your stove when cooking. Avoid distractions like a television in another room that might draw you away from the task at hand.
• Always blow out candles before leaving the room. In fact, confine your use of candles to those in large glass or tin containers.
• Ensure any items that can burn are at least one metre (3.3 feet) away from any space heaters.
• Avoid overloading the electrical outlets. If you are in an older home, invest some money into the installation of additional outlets and upgraded wiring if necessary. Extension cords should be used only as temporary connections.
• Refrain from running cords under rugs as foot traffic can damage the cord and cause a fire.
• Do not delay your escape by searching for your purse, coat, boots, prescriptions, valuables, or a fluffy family member. Just get out!

Generally speaking, a small flame in a dry, open space with lots of flammable materials around can spread out of control within a few minutes. Homes today can burn up to 8X faster than 50 years ago. A senior with mobility issues, hearing loss which impedes instant awareness of a smoke alarm sounding, and perhaps impaired vision will need every second of those few minutes to safely exit their home.

Do not forget that it is Friday the 13th this week and CrossRoads to Care is hosting an Open House and Education Day from 9:30 until 3:30 at the north end of the Bay View Mall. This is a free event that will interest seniors, caregivers, professionals and almost anyone in the community. Plan to join us.