Get ready for winter: Home Safety Week

FIRE Correspondent Catherine Levin reports on this year’s Home Fire Safety Week campaign on September 28 – October 4, which will focus on older people and winter fire safety.

This year’s campaign by the Chief Fire Officers Association will help to support the broader health agenda by reducing the estimated 30,000 preventable deaths that occur during the winter period. The awareness week also coincides with Older People’s Day on October 1.

It is the third time CFOA has held an awareness week focused on home safety. As fire and rescue services move on from traditional home fire safety visits to the evolving joined up approach of safe and well visits, this ‘mini campaign’, as CFOA is describing it, reinforces the important relationships that fire and rescue services have with public health bodies.

Focusing on winter safety, and in particular on how fire and rescue services can help partner agencies identify and help those most at risk, CFOA’s Home Safety Week is responding squarely to the challenge set earlier this year by NHS England and Public Health England. It is a sobering statistic that for the winter of 2015/16, the NHS estimates the number of winter deaths will be around 30,000, with a bias towards females over 65 years of age. Anything fire and rescue services can do to reduce risks to older people, through activity during this awareness week and more generally throughout the winter months, has to be time well spent.

DCO Mark Cashin, Chair of the CFOA Home Safety Committee, is hugely passionate about this area of work. He says:

“For some time now, CFOA has been arguing strongly that fire and rescue services can contribute to the wider health agenda through expanded safe and well visits. “It is gratifying that our senior NHS England and Public Health England colleagues recognise the potential role we can play to help reduce the risk of older people dying this winter. I therefore urge as many fire and rescue services as possible to support and commit resources to this ground-breaking and important campaign.”

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The campaign brief highlights the kind of work fire and rescue services can get involved with to address excess winter deaths (as health partners call them). Examples include work to promote flu inoculations, identification of cold housing, and addressing loneliness and isolation. The Chief Fire Officers Association has, as usual, provided a useful toolkit for fire and rescue services to use for planning and carrying out activities during this awareness week.

Home Safety Week is incredibly timely this year, with the government likely to bring into force in early October new regulations on the mandatory installation of smoke and CO alarms in private rented homes. All the activity aimed at the over 65s during Home Safety Week provides another opportunity to reinforce these new obligations and the wide publicity fire and rescue services are already doing to let tenants know their rights, but also for landlords to know that they can access alarms free of harge.

For more information on Home Safety Week contact: communications@cfoa.org.uk

Exeter Data

From September 21, fire and rescue services will have access to the Exeter system and relevant data on nine million people over the age of 65, which will help identify and target prevention to individuals most at risk. NHS England has a central data hub called the Health and Social Care

Information Centre. The centre will send out the data on September 21. In preparation for receipt of this data, fire and rescue services will be required to have an encrypted email system and secure data storage facilities.

For more information contact Evan Morris, CFOA Lead for Ageing Safely: evan.morris@prevention.cfoa.org.uk

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