Hard of hearing and elderly Aussies at greatest risk of fatal fires
At least one Australian dies from residential fires each week, with people aged over 65 accounting for over a third (36%) of all fatalities.
In fact, new research reveals over half (57%) of Australians worry about the safety of their elderly relatives still living at home yet less than half (42%) check their elderly relatives smoke alarms to ensure they are working.
Scarily, the research carried out by Brooks finds that half (50%) of Australians are concerned their elderly relatives could not escape a house fire in time, with low mobility and being hard of hearing topping the list for the biggest barriers to getting out in time.
These fears are not unfounded, with the over 65s being at greater risk of perishing in a house fire than any other age group. With millions of Australians isolated from family during the pandemic, basic safety checks are falling by the wayside and almost two thirds (58%) of Aussies haven’t discussed an escape plan in case of fire with their family.
Fire safety expert and CEO of Brooks, Cameron Brooks says it’s quite alarming that such a huge number of Aussies haven’t thought about getting their families out safely in the event of a fire.
“We hope to never have to use them, but escape plans are an important part of keeping our families safe. Making sure that everyone knows how to get out safely, where to meet and what to do is essential for not only children but also our elderly family members too,” Brooks says.
As most fatal house fires occur at night, it’s concerning that a quarter (25%) of Australians believe that their elderly relatives would sleep through a smoke alarm. Further contributing to the issue, around one in six Australians are affected by hearing loss and over half (53%) of those that are hard of hearing don’t wear their hearing aids or cochlear implants while they sleep.
For these reasons, physical and visual alerts are essential for notifying elderly or hard of hearing Australians of imminent danger. To protect elderly loved ones, specialised smoke alarms for the hard of hearing are available and come with a vibrating pad, that is placed under their pillow and a strobe light which is linked to the home’s smoke detectors.
Brooks says early warning devices are essential in every Australian home, but even more so when occupants may be hard of hearing or deaf.
“Smoke alarms save lives but those who are deaf or hard of hearing cannot depend on the sound of the regular alarm to alert them to a fire. Fortunately, there is a number of solutions specifically designed for the deaf, hard of hearing and elderly Australians,” Brooks says.
With winter fast approaching, Aussies are digging out their heaters and dusting off the fireplace. To keep us all safe, Brooks is launching a fire safety checklist for Australians to assess the safety of their homes and the homes of their loved ones.
- Deaf Services Queensland Scheme at https://www.qfes.qld.gov.au/community-safety/smokealarms/Pages/Deaf-Services-Qld-Subsidy-Scheme.aspx, and
- Queensland's Great Escape! [plan] at https://www.qfes.qld.gov.au/fireescape/fireescapeplan/
28 April 2021.