Home safety focus in latest Living Alone campaign
People who live alone are nearly four times more likely to die or be seriously injured in a fire, is the stark message from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service as it launches the next phase of its Living Alone campaign.
The Service is targeting people who live alone with a series of campaigns in an attempt to reduce the number of incidents involving them. In Staffordshire in the past five years alone there have been 741 accidental house fires in properties where the occupier lived alone and was aged 45 plus. Sadly 13 of these fires proved fatal.
Following a kitchen safety campaign earlier this year, this next phase is focusing on having working smoke alarms, testing them, having an escape plan and knowing what to do in the event of a fire.
Head of Prevention Mark Walchester said: “Sadly the facts speak for themselves – people who live alone are more likely to be victims of fire. It’s important that those who live alone, or those who look out for someone who lives alone, take note of this message and act on it. There are some really simple actions you can do to reduce the likelihood of a fire occurring and to evacuate safely should one occur.
“The easiest and most effective thing you can do is ensure you have working smoke alarms. The second thing to do is have an escape plan so you know how you would get out of your home if a fire occurred and your normal exit route was blocked. And finally know what to do if there is a fire – get out, stay out and call 999, never attempt to tackle a fire.”
One person backing the campaign is Carol Simpson. Carol lived alone until April this year when a fatal fire in the block of flats where she lived resulted in her flat becoming inhabitable due to smoke and water damage. Carol had moved in with her partner temporarily whilst she waits for her flat to be refurbished. Co-incidentally she was part of a group that were consulted with by the fire service who were asking for feedback on the posters and leaflets they were planning to use for the campaign. One of these posters was about having working smoke alarms and Carol went back to her partner’s home following the session with a clear action to test his alarms. She was shocked to find he had one smoke alarm which had no battery in and so rang the fire service to find out if they were eligible for a safe and well visit. They came out the same day and a member of the team had carried out a visit and fitted three smoke alarms in the property.
Carol said: “I can’t thank the fire service enough, firstly for involving us in their campaign before it even launched, if they hadn’t I just wouldn’t have thought to have checked. I’ve had so much to deal with since having to move out, I just wrongly presumed my partner would have working smoke alarms. Secondly the service we received when we realised he had no alarms, they quickly came out to visit us and were so helpful. This campaign has raised awareness of fire safety for both of us, bearing in mind that ordinarily we do live alone. I’ve since mentioned it to some friends who also had no working smoke alarms fitted. I’ll definitely be making sure my smoke alarms are working when I am in a position to move back into my flat.”
To check your risk or that of someone you know visit Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s website www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk and click on the Living Alone link.