Get Alarmed Chatham County is offering free smoke detectors

Pittsboro, NC – On Saturday, October 10th, a 4 am apartment fire in Miami, Florida took the life of an 83-year-old woman. This is a story that could be repeated in communities across the country, including Chatham.

Fire safety is important for people of all ages, people over the age of 65 reportedly face the greatest risk of dying in a fire. In 2011, older adults had a 2.7 times greater risk of dying in a fire than the population as a whole. Persons aged 85 and older have the highest relative risk—more than 4.5 times more likely to die in a fire than the total population. As the United State Fire Administration explains, some older adults are at greater risk because decreased mobility, ill health, and limited sight or impaired hearing can limit a person’s ability to act quickly to escape a fire emergency.

Fire Alarm TestSo what can be done to help? The chances of surviving a home fire nearly doubles with the initial warning from a smoke alarm. The good news is that our Fire Marshal’s office has a program called Operation Save-a-Life/Get Alarmed Chatham County. They have free smoke detectors and will install them if needed. Please contact their office at (919) 542-8259 or your local fire department if you or anyone you know is in need of one.

For those who already have smoke detectors, it is essential that these detectors are tested periodically and their batteries replaced at least once a year. Caregivers are encouraged to check the smoke alarms of those unable to do so themselves.

In addition to assuring the presence and maintenance of smoke alarms, there are other steps that seniors and others should take to protect against fires. Here are a few tips:

· Think about and plan how you will escape from each of your rooms.

· Speak to your family members or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them.

· Those who use a walker or wheelchair should check all exits to be sure they can go through the doorways.

· When cooking, never approach an open flame while wearing loose clothing and don’t leave cooking unattended. Use a timer to remind you of food in the oven. In 2013, nearly half of our residential fires were associated with cooking.

· Never use the oven to heat your home.

· Don’t overload electrical outlets or extension cords.

· Be especially careful if you are on medication that makes you drowsy.
Older adults who smoke must be extra careful as the leading cause of residential fire deaths among older persons is careless smoking. Never smoke in bed or near and oxygen source, gas stove, or flammable object.