Happy old peopleWest Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has launched a new campaign, calling on communities to look out for 'Cherished' vulnerable elderly neighbours, relatives and friends throughout the winter months ahead.

The campaign was launched to coincide with Older People’s Day [Oct 1], and sees the Service reminding people to do their bit to cherish older generations and giving 10 top tips for a safe and healthy winter.

The campaign, set to run throughout the month of October, does not solely promote fire safety but also wellbeing. Using the slogan ‘kindness in a cuppa,’ WYFRS is urging well-wishers to pop in on older people and flag up potential hazards in the home whilst preventing social isolation and the associated mental and physical decline.

By encouraging people to get in touch with the Fire Service and book a free Home Fire Safety Check, the Service hope to prevent tragedies before they happen.

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Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: "Sadly we know that older people are more vulnerable to injury or death as a result of having a fire in the home.

"Whilst many proudly live independently, we know that living alone can also put you at greater risk from fire. Smoking is a clear factor in the recent tragedies, however, we believe other risk factors generally include the onset of dementia, immobility, sensory impairment, alcohol consumption, the side effects of medication and social isolation.

"Ultimately these factors can make it harder for older people to be aware of a fire, raise the alarm and make an unaided escape. The Fire and Rescue Service recognises that our role in improving health and wellbeing in the community is vital in reducing demand on already stretched health and social care services.
We can carry out a free home visit, install smoke alarms and put measures in place to prevent fires breaking out as well as referring people to our partner organisations where appropriate. Ultimately we want to save lives."

The awareness drive has been prompted by a spike in the number of fire-related deaths of elderly people across West Yorkshire. Since the beginning of 2015 there have been 10 fatalities of people over 60-years-old following fires in homes across the county.

Whilst Coroners Inquests are pending, Fire Service investigations have shown that in eight of the cases the cause of the fire has been smoking related. It’s estimated 23% of the UK will be aged 65 and over by 2035 and as part of the Cherished campaign the Fire Service is highlighting its work to safeguard future generations.

In addition to the campaign WYFRS prevention staff have designed a schools package for Year 6 pupils which will be rolled out across West Yorkshire. The innovative package uses activities to simulate the physical challenges of aging, such as arthritis, and gives pupils a basic understand of dementia while encouraging them to spot hazards in the homes of grandparents and other elderly relatives.

Follow the Cherished campaign on Twitter via @West_Yorks_FRS and retweet #KindnessInACuppa