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Big fire danger for BH seniors

Friday, 28th March, 2014

There have been more than 150 house fires in Broken Hill, such as this recent one in Cobalt Street, since 2006. There have been more than 150 house fires in Broken Hill, such as this recent one in Cobalt Street, since 2006.

Elderly Broken Hill people are among the most in danger from home fires in country NSW, according to Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW).

The FRNSW said one fifth of all house fires involved seniors and a third of all preventable fire deaths in NSW occurred in this age group.

So far in 2014, four people have died in NSW home fires and all have been over 65. 

New FRNSW data shows the elderly residents most at risk live in the Newcastle, Broken Hill, the Murrumbidgee, Junee, Leeton, Narromine, Bogan, Deniliquin, Narrandera, Lithgow and Cowra council areas. 

BH Fire Station Commander Sean Doohan said in the seven years to 2013 there were more than 150 home fires in Broken Hill, with more than 35 - or more than one fifth - resulting in injuries, and two in death. 

In an attempt to cut the risk, the FRNSW in conjunction with Home Care Broken Hill, will hold a fire safety workshop at BH Fire Station on April 4 for local seniors. 

“It is our older residents who are most at risk so we want to invite local seniors and care workers to come along to the workshop and learn some safety tips, including how to test smoke alarms and use fire blankets and extinguishers,” SO Doohan said.

“Firefighters will also use a kitchen fire simulator to demonstrate fire safety in the kitchen.” 

The workshop is being held in the lead-up to the Duracell-led “Change your clock, change your smoke alarm battery” campaign. 

SO Doohan said the most important thing people over 65 could do to reduce their risk was to have a working alarm. 

“A fire can take hold in just three minutes, filling your home with deadly smoke. A working smoke alarm gives you vital seconds to get out before you’re overcome. 

“If you cannot climb a ladder and have no family, friends or neighbours to help you, firefighters will come out and replace seniors’ smoke alarm batteries free of charge as part of the Smoke Alarm & Battery Replacement program.” 

Duracell is providing batteries to the BH Fire Station to distribute free to elderly residents. 

Other 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 home escape plan. This is even more important for those with reduced mobility and can greatly increase the chances of surviving fires in the home. 

WHEN at home, leave keys in, or near, deadlocks so you can escape quickly. 

IF A FIRE does break out, don’t fight it - get out, stay out and call Triple Zero (000). 

To book a place at the seniors’ workshop, or for more information, contact FRNSW Community Safety Officer Melanie Rebane on 9742 7179 or email Melanie.Rebane@fire.nsw.gov.au

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