Do you have a parent living on their own that may no longer be able to care for themselves adequately? This is a difficult situation that many people come to face at one point in their lives. How do you tell a parent that has spent their whole life caring for you that they may need help taking care of their daily needs? From a fire department’s point of view we are very concerned about seniors that due to no fault of their own find themselves in danger due to the onset of age related problems. Unfortunately it is usually family members who become aware of these problems and have to find a way to deal with them. This will be one of the most difficult situations you will ever have to face, however turning a blind eye to suspected problems could put an aging parent in very real danger, and in the case of shared living can put other seniors in danger as well.
When it comes to fire safety we ask that family members or friends look for physical evidence that a senior could be at risk. Look at the pots and pans in the kitchen, do you notice that there are many pots with scorch marks? This could be a sign of unattended cooking, or forgetting that a pot is on a burner. If your senior is a smoker look at the furniture, bedding and clothing. Do you notice burn marks from cigarettes? Both of these signs should be telling you that this person is at risk of injuring themselves in a fire. Additionally if at any time should you notice periods of excessive forgetfulness or dementia you need to raise this with their doctor, this should never be ignored.
Other seniors may very well be capable of caring for themselves but might need accommodations to deal with other physical limitations. Hearing often diminishes as we age, can the person hear a sounding smoke alarm? If not, there are solutions to this problem. Does the senior have mobility problems? Could they escape their home in less than 2 minutes if a smoke alarm sounded? If not, this needs to be addressed.
The demographics of our society is about to change drastically, the baby boomer generation is aging and we will have more seniors per capita than ever before. Fire safety for seniors is not just the concern of seniors but also the families of seniors. The Russell Fire Department will be releasing a new pamphlet very shortly addressing this topic, the pamphlet will be available in the medical clinic and at other locations around town. If you have any fire safety concerns for yourself or for a family member that the Russell Fire Department may be of help, please contact us at 613-445-3326.