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Check on the elderly this Christmas

With Christmas only a matter of days away, Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service is calling on people to take a minute to check that elderly relatives, neighbours and friends have working smoke alarms and that they know how to get out should a fire break out in their home.

The plea comes following two fatal accidental house fires in early December.

Area Manager Rob Taylor said “Earlier this month Firefighters attended two separate house fires in consecutive days, where tragically two elderly gentlemen lost their lives.

“On the 8 December an 87 year old gentleman from Ilkeston sadly passed away following an accidental electrical appliance fire.   Only 24 hours later and a 97 year old gentleman from Normanton also tragically passed away, again as a result of an accidental fire caused by an electrical appliance. The thoughts and sympathy of everyone at Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service continues to be with the family and friends of the deceased at such a distressing time. 

“Many people will no doubt be reading this with understandable safety concerns.  

“On the run up to Christmas, I’d like to ask people to take a few vital minutes to consider their own fire safety, and if you do have an elderly relative, friend or neighbour, take a minute to check on them too. It’s going to be a very different Christmas this year, so if you’re not able to see them in person, pick up the phone and chat to them about fire safety.

“The most important advice is to ensure there are working smoke alarms on every level of the home and that they are tested weekly.  Ensure everyone in the house knows what to do in the event of a fire and how they would get out.  You should never attempt to tackle a fire yourself. Our advice is simple, Get Out, Stay Out and Call 999.

“Take a minute to check electrical appliances too. Look out for frayed wires and make sure all electrical appliances are registered - this is a simple process that can be done quickly online at Electrical Safety First and will ensure you’re notified if a manufacturer recalls a product, and finally, never leave electrical appliances switched on overnight, with the exception of fridges and freezers.”

You can check if electrical items are on a manufacturers recall list and register your own appliances on the Electrical Safety First website.

Area Manager Taylor went on to comment on the dramatic changes to everyday life brought on by the pandemic, he said: “The past year has seen a dramatic change to people’s lifestyles, including increased isolation levels for the elderly. The impact of this is not yet clear, however it is reasonable to consider that people’s routines and daily lives have altered. Any change can be difficult and confusing, especially to those with limited support. It can be easy for simple safety measures to be overlooked so please, take a few minutes to check on others – let’s continue to look out for each other.

“As a Service we continually assess and monitor emerging risks and put in place actions such as safe and well checks, to help mitigate those risks for our communities.  At the beginning of 2020 we had little knowledge of the impact the virus would have, but over the last few months we have been working hard to identify additional new risks and trends as a result of Covid-19. By doing this we continue to ensure we are best placed to deliver the most appropriate safety messages and interventions to all of our communities as we work to Make Derbyshire Safer Together.”

Anyone concerned about the fire safety of an elderly relative, friend or neighbour can visit for more information and advice.