People across South Yorkshire are being urged to find the time to check on a loved one this week – as part of Older Persons Day which takes place today, Monday 1 October.
The day coincides with a national Home Safety Week initiative, which runs until Sunday 7 October, and follows a recent fire that involved the death of a Rotherham man who was in his 70s.
An inquest into the man’s death heard that the cause of said fire, which occured in November last year, was a wheat bag that had been left in the microwave too long.
Firefighters were called to another similar fire recently and, whilst nobody was hurt in this instance, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is calling on people to find time this week to check in with their elderly friends, relatives and neighbours who may begin to struggle as the weather drops and winter draws closer.
“We know we have an ageing population and as people get older they can become more vulnerable through things such as limited mobility,” said Area Manager Steve Helps, who heads up the service’s community safety team.
“Sadly this, amongst other things such as colder weather, taking medication and living alone, can put older people are a higher risk of fire. We’ve visited people in the past, for example, who are unable to test their smoke alarm for the simple reason that they can’t reach it.
“Together with our partners we do a lot of work to support the elderly in South Yorkshire and we need people to refer those who they feel might need our support to us. This is why we’re asking people that if they have an elderly relative, or neighbour, that they feel might be at a heightened risk of fire – then get in touch.
“It takes five minutes to fill in the home safety visit referral on our website and, for something so quick, it could lead to a life-saving intervention. Also, checking in to test somebody’s smoke alarm takes no time at all so if you can, please do.”
During 2017/18 there were five fire deaths in South Yorkshire as a result of accidental dwelling fires – two in Sheffield, two in Rotherham and two in Barnsley. Each of these incidents involved a man with two out of five being in their 50s, and the remaining three being in their late 60s and 70s.
Meanwhile nationally, figures show that the rate of fire-related fatalities (deaths per million people) generally increases with age.
Our Home Safety Visit referral form can be filled in here – it is a short form and once filled in, if eligible, you will be contacted by one of our team.