An elderly woman has been treated by paramedics following a fire at her bungalow in Whitstable.
Although treated at the scene for the effects of breathing in smoke, her injuries were not serious. However, it took four fire crews to fight the fire at the rear of the bungalow.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used two main jets, a hose reel, and water from a hydrant.
Smoke could be seen for miles around, and although the cause of the fire is unknown, police are not treating it suspicious.
Thankfully, everyone was accounted for and there were no reports of injuries.
Unfortunately, elderly people are at high risk of suffering as a result of a fire. Poor mobility, a weak sense of smell, and reduced tolerance of smoke and burns contribute to such terrible accidents.
Around 140 people aged over 65 die each year in fires. Many more suffer injuries or are made homeless by such fires.
So it’s worth taking a few precautions to make sure elderly relatives or neighbours remain safe.
Make sure that candles are secured in a proper holder and are placed away from materials which may catch fire, such as curtains and other soft furnishings.
It’s also important to make sure candles are not left burning unattended, so be sure they are completely put out before going to sleep. And in the event of a power cut, it’s far safer to use a torch or battery-operated light.
Smoking in bed is also full of risks in case you fall asleep, and you are likely to be surrounded by combustible materials (bedding). Any cigarettes need correctly disposing of in an ashtray, which is only emptied once the contents have cooled.
With portable heaters, the position is key. Not only do you need to make sure they receive the full benefit of the heat, but it needs placing a safe distance of curtains and furniture.
Using them to dry clothes presents an unnecessary fire risk. And they need switching off when going to bed or leaving the home.
The elderly perhaps feel the cold much more, and electric blankets are a good way for them to keep warm. However, they are a common cause of fires. They must be used in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines and need to remain well maintained. It’s recommended that they are safety checked every ten years.
But the best way of ensuring the safety of elderly people is to ensure they have smoke alarms installed throughout the home. Placing them in the rooms they spend most of their time is the best cause of action.
Just ensure they are checked regularly. And for those with hearing difficulties, other solutions are available which will provide a visual warning or a vibration.