Two recent stories out of the New York City area caught my attention with regards to fire safety. The first story occurred on September 6th where a 69 year old man was rescued by neighbours and firefighters after his building caught fire and his apartment filled with smoke. The man who was awaiting knee replacement surgery and unable to walk was trapped, a teenaged neighbour who was alerted to his situation ran to let firefighters know he needed help. Finally when the firefighters arrived on scene, they found the man’s apartment filled with thick smoke and were able to remove him just in time. The man was treated for smoke inhalation but was otherwise in stable condition; he was very fortunate to survive a situation that could have ended up much worse. Considering the conditions he faced and the time it took for him to escape the building, he is very lucky to be alive. Being in a room filled with thick acrid smoke from a house fire for any length of time usually results in death. Stories of close escapes from burning buildings are not all that uncommon, especially in a city the size of New York. What caught my attention to this story was that the man was the father of 15 children! His reproductive skills aside, what I found compelling was that a person who had 15 children was left to fend for himself without any means of escape in an emergency situation. Not knowing his relationship with the 15 children he fathered, I can not comment on the care they provided for their parent. However I would like to remind everyone who has an elderly parent that checking on their fire safety should be a concern. Are they able to get themselves out of their home on their own? Consider that this could be in the middle of the night or in the winter. Does you parent maintain their smoke alarms, or are the alarms over 10 years old? Can the parent hear the smoke alarm when it sounds? These are all questions we should be asking ourselves if we have elderly parents or friends who are entering this period of their lives. Seniors themselves also have to look at their own situation objectively and ask for help if they feel that it is needed. The Russell Fire Department has an excellent pamphlet that deals with the concerns of seniors and fire safety, please contact us if you would like a copy.
The second story that caught my attention occurred over the October 8th weekend. Seven people died in two separate fires, in both cases there was not a working smoke alarm in the home and In both cases children perished. According to the New York Fire Department; More than two-thirds of all residential fire deaths in the city take place in homes with no working smoke detectors. These statistics mirror that of cities throughout North America, unfortunately it looks like we will go on reporting these tragedies until people take their own safety and that of their family seriously.