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Senior Services giving away smoke detectors

By JOHN WALKER - jwalker@shelbynews.com

National Fire Prevention Week begins today, and Shelby Senior Services is sounding the alarm ... sort of.

Actually, Senior Services will be giving away smoke detector alarms starting on Monday.

“This is a ‘Hands at Home’ project,” said Ralanda Smallfelt, coordinator of family caregiver services at Senior Services.

Hands at Home gives seniors a helping hand to remain in their homes by doing needed maintenance work and other projects, including building access ramps for those who have difficulty walking.

Seniors are at high risk in a fire. The U.S. Fire Administration says older adults are 2.5 times more likely to die in a fire when compared to the population as a whole.

There are some guidelines in order to qualify for a free smoke detector from Shelby Senior Services.

“They have to come in person,” Smallfelt said, to Senior Services at 1504 S. Harrison St., to receive a smoke detector.

Also, recipients have to have proof they’re at least 60 years old and live in Shelby County. A driver’s license or utility bill would work, she said.

There is a limit of one smoke detector per household.

Smallfelt said she has about 100 to give away on a first come, first served basis throughout the week as long as they last.

The National Fire Protection Association has sponsored Fire Prevention Week since 1922.

“This year’s campaign is ‘Look, Listen and Learn,’” Smallfelt said.

According to the NFPA, the key is to be aware:

n Look where fires could happen

n Listen for the smoke alarm

n Learn two ways out of every room

National Fire Prevention Week takes place each year in October to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire.

As the story goes, in October, 1871, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a burning lantern which began the fire that destroyed more than 17,400 buildings, left 100,000 people homeless, and killed some 250 people in Chicago.

More information about National Fire Prevention Week and fire safety is available at www.nfpa.org.

Fire safety tips for seniors

n Have an escape plan

n Discuss the plan with neighbors, fire department

n Make sure walkers, wheelchairs will fit through doors

n Make sure you can hear a smoke detector

n Make sure your detector is working

n Never smoke around medical oxygen

n Use a timer to remind you when you are cooking

Source: U.S. Fire Administration