Local expert offers safety advice to the elderly this winter
As the weather declines and the cold nights set in, we all begin to make provisions for the - sometimes drastic – changes in the seasons. But what about the people living in our communities who can’t make these adjustments for themselves?
In an effort to offer support and guidance to the elderly and vulnerable across Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster, local care expert Fathia Issa gives her top tip on how to REACT when faced with risk in the home this winter.
Radiator, open fire and electrical safety
Remember to put fires out completely before falling asleep. Use a fire guard to protect yourself and any flammable furnishings from flying sparks and hot embers. Keep chimneys and flues clean – if this is something you aren’t able to manage on your own, ask a friend or relative to help, or contact a local chimney sweep. If you’re using portable heaters during the colder months, keep them away from upholstery and always unplug them before you go to bed. Some older heaters will use paraffin or gas – these should only be used in well-ventilated areas, as this style of heater consumes oxygen and could cause suffocation if not aired properly.
Around 65 house fires are caused every year by electric fires. Keep risk to a minimum by following the manufacturers’ guidelines and adjusting settings to automatically time out after 12-16 hours. Accidents happen when electrical appliances aren’t properly cared for so, for example, to be safe, electric blankets should be stored without folding any of the heating elements and replaced every 10 years.
Environmental changes and trip hazards
We can all get caught out by a sudden dump of snow! Prepare for any sudden changes in weather by stocking up on long-life food essentials and frozen staples.
Assess any trip hazards in areas of low lighting in your home and, if you can’t fix the hazard, invest in additional sources of light. In adverse weather conditions, the power supply can fail, so it is best to plan for all eventualities. Keep a battery-operated torch or camping light close by, so it is easily accessible during a power cut.
Always be prepared
It is always a good idea to plan a couple of escape routes or contact your local fire service who may be able to offer a Safe and Well visit. This involves a representative from the fire service visiting you in your home. They will identify any potential fire risks, communicate how to minimise those risks and will even support in devising an escape plan. This service is completely free – just be aware that it may well be a firefighter who conducts the inspection and, as they will be on active duty, they could be called away at a moment’s notice.
Contact loved ones and neighbours
A hands-free, voice-controlled speaker is a great investment for anyone living alone. These in-home devices, which usually cost less than £100, are relatively simple to set up and provide reminder services, can keep track of your shopping lists and even keep your brain active with their ‘Question of the Day’ feature. Most importantly, you can set them up to call loved ones, using a simple voice command – a key benefit to anyone who may be at risk of falling.
Time to call for help
If you’ve had an accident or your home is put at risk – and it is more serious than something a friend or neighbour could help with – it’s important to know the contact options available to you.
101 – The non-emergency contact number for the police. Call this in instances of non-serious crime – it will transfer you to your local police station.
111 – The non-emergency medical number. This line is for non-critical illness, or if you’d like health advice outside a GP Practice’s appointment hours.
999 – In case of an emergency.
Fathia adds, “During these colder months, we are all at an increased risk but if your mobility is limited or you suffer from poor health, then preparation will give you peace of mind that your safety has been prioritised. At Caremark Kensington, Chelsea & Westminster, we regularly support our clients to keep their homes orderly and safe. The wellbeing of the elderly and vulnerable in our community is of such importance to me and the team. Please take the time to consider those living nearby who may struggle on their own this winter and offer a helping hand, where possible – it really could make all the difference.”
For more information, visit www.caremark.co.uk/kensington-chelsea-and-westminster
To speak with Fathia Isaa, contact Kelly Ayres at Rev PR on 07895 876745 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Image attached - Fathia Issa in the Caremark office