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Elderly urged to get Firewise

Thu, 9 Sep 2004

Elderly urged to get Firewise

The Fire Service is urging elderly New Zealanders to get Firewise.

Too many elderly are being injured and killed in fires, says acting national commander Bill Butzbach.

He says four people over the age of 70 die in house fires each year. This is high given their proportion in the population.

Already this month fire has claimed the life of a woman in Wanganui, a man suffered serious burns in a caravan fire at Mount Maunganui and a woman was badly hurt in a Spreydon fire.

Frankly, this emerging trend is tragic and disturbing. With simple precautions it can be reversed.

The main causes of fires involving elderly are sleeping with electric blankets still on, using old appliances and careless disposal of cigarettes or falling asleep while smoking. Mr Butzbach says seniors can do a lot to keep themselves safe.

- Install smoke alarms in bedrooms and living areas - firefighters can do this for you as well as replace batteries. Special smoke alarms are available to assist those with hearing disabilities.

- Work out an escape plan – you should know two ways of escaping from every room. If you need help developing a plan, firefighters would be happy to assist.

- Practice your escape plan every few months

- Keep a telephone and torch by the bed

- Always turn off your electric blanket before getting into bed

- Don't smoke in bed

- If there is an emergency dial 111 immediately.

Mr Butzbach says the Fire Service has a range of fire safety resources specifically designed for the elderly and delivered by firefighters, and people are welcome to contact their local fire station for help and advice, from having a smoke alarm installed to putting together and practicing a home escape plan. C'mon seniors, get Firewise.

ENDS

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