Over 65s must heed warning

Published: 12th March 2014

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Greg Mullins has urged elderly residents, their families and carers to change their smoke alarm batteries when Daylight Saving ends on Saturday, 6 April.

Those aged over 65 are the most vulnerable in the community to having a fire in the home, with a third of all preventable fire deaths in NSW occurring in this age group.

New data shows those elderly residents most at risk in Sydney live in the Botany Bay, Sydney, Randwick, Canterbury, Liverpool, Parramatta, Leichhardt, and Bankstown council areas.

Regionally, those most at risk live in the Newcastle, Broken Hill, the Murrumbidgee, Junee, Leeton, Narromine, Bogan, Deniliquin, Narrandera, Lithgow and Cowra council areas.

There have been four fire fatalities from house fires in NSW so far this year, all involving over 65s.

In the lead up to the Duracell-led ‘Change your clock, change your smoke alarm battery’ campaign, Commissioner Mullins said a working smoke alarm was vital.

“A fire can take hold in less than three minutes, filling your home with deadly smoke,” Commissioner Mullins said.

“A working smoke alarm gives you vital seconds to get out before you’re overcome. The most important thing those over 65 can do to reduce their risk of fire in the home is to have a working smoke alarm.

“When Daylight Saving ends on 6 April, change your smoke alarm battery too.

“If you cannot climb a ladder and have no family, friends or neighbours to help you, FRNSW firefighters will come out and replace seniors’ smoke alarm batteries free of charge as part of the Smoke Alarm & Battery Replacement (SABRE) program. Contact your local fire station for further details.”

Key seniors fire safety tips:

  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm installed – test them monthly and change the batteries annually.
  • Never leave cooking unattended on the stove. Almost half of house fires involving over 65s start in the kitchen.
  • Have a practised home escape plan. This is important for those with reduced mobility and can greatly increase seniors’ chances of surviving fires in the home.
  • When at home, leave keys in, or near, deadlocks so you can escape quickly in an emergency.
  • If a fire does break out, don’t fight the fire - get out, stay out and call Triple Zero (000).

For more information visit www.fire.nsw.gov.au or contact your nearest fire station.

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