A Lichfield woman has taken centre stage in a new fire safety campaign.
Catharina Page features in a new leaflet highlighting the dangers faced by older people and those who care for them, after five deaths involving the elderly in the region over the last year.
The 83-year-old, who has lost her sight, became part of the campaign after she was given a home fire risk check by Lichfield firefighters. They discovered that because of her vision problems, she was guessing timings on the microwave and using her hand to gauge the heat on her cooker. She also had no kitchen door, only one fuse box for the whole of the property and a faulty electric blanket.
Following the check, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service supplied and fitted two smoke alarms, a carbon monoxide detector and two extension leads. They also contacted other agencies who have ensured Catharina now has tactile marks to kitchen appliances to assist her with cooking, as well as upgrading her electrics and fitting stair rail. She is also due to have a walk-in shower installed.
A talking pen was also provided which allows Catharina to record information – including a message for firefighters. It said:
“I have been sitting here thinking how my life has changed since I had a visit from the firefighters about safety in the home. Through those people they put me in touch with social services and since then my life has changed, for which I say a big, big thank you.”
Although Catharina’s case may sound extreme, Carmel Warren, Community Safety Manager for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, explained that they often come across people in similar situations.
“Catharina’s story is unfortunately not unique so it is essential we can identify and help the vulnerable members of our community.
“We realise that not all older people suffer from health problems however they may still be at risk but not realise it and that is what we are for – to help them identify those risks and avoid potential injury or worse.”
The Older Person’s Campaign will run until March 2011 and anyone who hasn’t already booked their free home fire risk check can contact 0800 0241 999 to book one.