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Published: Wednesday, 11/16/2011

Programs for seniors focus on preventing fires, falls

Free smoke detectors among month's features

BLADE STAFF
Darlene Kennedy takes notes during the safety program at Sylvania Senior Center. Darlene Kennedy takes notes during the safety program at Sylvania Senior Center.
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Sylvania Township Fire Department, which has declared November as Senior Safety Month, is hosting safety presentations, distributing free smoke detectors, and offering home safety visits for seniors.

Aimed at promoting safety for senior citizens, the presentations focus on fire prevention, fall prevention, and home safety.

The first of two events at the Sylvania Senior Center was held last week; the second session is scheduled for 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the senior center.

No set number of smoke detectors will be handed out.

"More or less, we are offering them to any seniors who are in need" of a smoke detector, said Lt. Chad Morris of the Sylvania Township fire department.

Seniors are not required to attend the presentations to obtain smoke detectors. Residents can call the fire department, and "we will come out and install it for them," Lieutenant Morris said.

About a half dozen local businesses offered assistance with the program and contributed money to purchase smoke detectors to give to seniors.

During home safety checks, seniors will be told about ways to prevent fires and to prevent falls, Lieutenant Morris said. Firefighters will check for electrical hazards and for hazards that could cause a fall, such as a throw rug that slips when it is walked on.

The educational component of the program is important for the seniors and the seniors' families, he said.

During the safety presentations, Sylvania police will provide tips on senior crime prevention.

Sylvania firefighters note that the best way to deal with disaster is to prevent it from happening.

Whether they live independently or in a care facility, seniors can take measures to prevent fires and to prevent falls.

Firefighters want to reduce residents' chances of experiencing a fire or fall, and in turn, the firefighters want to reduce the damage related to fires and to falls.

According to national statistics provided by the fire department, fire takes a life every 175 minutes, and falls cause injuries every 31 minutes.

Of the fires in 2009, 85 percent occurred in homes and claimed thousands of lives.

Older adults account for 32 percent of fire deaths. People older than 65 have a fire death rate nearly twice the national average, and for those over 75, the percentage jumps to three times the national average, according to the statistics from the fire department.

Lieutenant Morris and paramedic/firefighter Patrick Miller, who are part of the fire department's public relations efforts, will be putting together other such educational programs in the community, they said.

Mr. Miller, who is the public relations assistant, said this is the first time that the department has organized presentations as part of a specially designated Senior Safety Month.

Lieutenant Morris said the fire department has a strong tradition of working with children to teach them about fire safety, but the statistics show that the need is greater to educate the elderly about fire prevention and fall prevention.

The fire department saw the need to develop programs in the community to address those prevention issues, he said. The goal is to make a positive impact on the lives of Sylvania and Sylvania Township senior citizens, he said.

Additional information about the safety program is available by email at PR@sylvaniatownshipfire.com or at 419-882-7676 ext. 1758.



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