Stanford firefighters give crash course in fire safety to senior citizens

October 21, 2004|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Ninety-two year old Terry Johnson learned Wednesday that you're never too old to learn.

Wednesday's lessons included some that could help save his life.

Johnson joined his fellow senior citizens at the Lincoln County Adult Day Health Center to participate in a crash course in fire safety, given by the Stanford Fire Department. The department also visits local schools with the same message, fire safety is no accident.

Fire chief Ken McDaniel and firefighter Robin Jones handed out household safety tips along with pamphlets, instructing participants on everything from the importance of fire detectors to the dangers of space heaters.

The program is a way to remind kids and adults that the onset of winter brings added fire hazard, most of them preventable with a little common sense and a new battery, said McDaniel.


"I have smoke detectors that have been donated," and if they already have detectors at home that they can't reach, "I'll even change the batteries for you," McDaniel told the crowd.

Heaters are a concern

Another concern during colder months is heater safety, said McDaniel. Watch what you have stored in supply closets next to the water heater or other appliances. Those items give off heat, and if dry tinder such as cardboard boxes are stacked too close, you have a point of ignition.

Space heaters are one of several serious winter-time fire threats. Jones confirmed rumors that hairspray and perfume should not be used around them, since both are highly flammable. Dry materials should never be placed nearby and all equipment should be inspected regularly, especially when being used in a trailer home.

Mobile homes are also extremely flammable, Jones said. Built with a different set of safety standards than regular houses, it only takes about five minutes for a trailer to be engulfed.

"If you have any type of fire in a mobile home, get out. Don't try to save anything, just get out," McDaniel said.

Fire prevention is not the only health concern of senior citizens, said care center Administrator Sue Cowan.

"Preventing falls, that's something that is a very big issue," like removing foot-snagging throw rugs and making sure people use the appropriate walking equipment, such as canes or walkers. "You don't think about the little things that are big issues that keep people safe."

Showing how firefighters would look

Wearing about 30 pounds of equipment, McDaniel ended the presentation on a high note by crawling down the line of spectators to demonstrate how a firefighters would look when trying to find them in a smoke-filled room. His air mask hissed as he breathed, the cumbersome suit being likened to a space man's uniform. It was scary enough in broad daylight, said some witnesses, let alone should they be confronted by the bright yellow garb in an emergency rescue.

Some people do hide when firefighters are trying to find them through the smoke, said McDaniel, all the more reason for him to visit local schools and community centers in his rescue gear.

The fire safety presentation did more than just educate, it also helped keep her client's minds active said Cowan.

"You have to stimulate the mind as well as the body to keep people in the best physical shape possible," Cowan explained.

Sitting among the row of quilt-draped recliners, Johnson had no difficulty appearing decades less than his near century age as he watched the presentation with enthusiasm.

"He really enjoyed this, he really did," Susan Buchanan, a nurse said.

The day health center crowd always appreciates visits from the fire department, said Jones. "It raises their spirits a lot. Every time we come up here, they love us."

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