This Carers Week (8-14 June) Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service, as part of the Fire Kills campaign, is reaching out to local carers and reminding them that help is available to keep them, and the people they care for, safe from fire.
Fire safety is another worry on an ever-growing list for those with the extra responsibility of looking after an elderly relative, sick friend or a disabled family member.
A recent survey showed that more than half of the people who had tested someone else’s smoke alarm had done so for an older family member. But there are many other issues a carer must think about – from the extra time it takes for people with difficulty moving to escape a fire in the home, to the added risks of flammable equipment such as oxygen cylinders.
There is lots of help available for carers to make sure that they and their loved ones are protected – be it simple safety advice over the phone or on our website, http://www.cumbriafire.gov.uk or helping them find the specialist equipment they need.
The simplest thing any carer can do to prevent fire in their home is to make a few easy additions to their normal routine. Testing your loved one’s smoke alarm weekly and planning an escape route could help give them the vital extra seconds they need to get out in a fire. Simple steps such as closing doors at night and avoiding overloaded plug sockets will help reduce the risk in their home.
A huge variety of specialist safety equipment is also available – vibrating smoke alarms for the hard of hearing, easy-reach smoke alarm testers for those with limited movement and linked alarm systems are just a few options to help you feel safer.
If you take care of a loved one, Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service’s advice could help make your – and their – jobs easier should the worst happen:
Make sure the person you care for is registered with your local fire and rescue service if they have sight, hearing, mobility difficulties, or if they use oxygen. This will mean a fire crew is made aware of your circumstances in the event of an emergency.
If you have a text phone or minicom, you can contact the emergency services on 18000.
Make sure that the person you care for knows what to do in the event of a fire.
It’s a good idea to practise an escape so that you and your loved ones feel confident enough to do it by day or night.
Some simple everyday checks can help prevent a household fire:
A working smoke alarm can give your loved ones the extra time they need to escape a house fire. Make testing the batteries of their alarms part of your weekly routine.
Most house fires happen at night, so make sure your smoke alarm is in a position that will wake the person you care for up; e.g. in the bedroom.
If you can, close inside doors at night. This will help prevent a fire from spreading.
If you use oxygen, make sure the equipment is stored safely out of direct sunlight, well ventilated, always dry and away from heat sources.
Never have open flames, smoke or use electrical appliances such as hairdryers, whilst using oxygen.
Specialist equipment is available:
If you live with the person you care for, consider fitting an intercom which will allow you to alert someone else in the house in an emergency.
If you or the person you care for has difficulty hearing you can get specialist smoke alarms which use a strobe light and vibrating pads.
Alternatively consider linking the alarm system to your own – this can alert you to any danger.
A coloured sticker on the smoke alarm can help people with trouble seeing it to test it, or your local fire and rescue authority might be able to provide a coloured cover.
Placing a tactile indicator along your escape route can make it easier for those with sight difficulties to find the exit.
Easy access smoke alarms are available for people who have trouble moving around. These can be tested from the wall rather than the ceiling. The Disabled Living Foundation can provide more information on these products.
For further information on fire safety please visit www.gov.uk/firekills