Personal Safety

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Regardless of age, never take a chance with your personal safety. Instead, actively limit any vulnerability to accident or harm by following simple steps.

A smoke alarm.Older people may be less likely to be victims of crime than any other age group but this does not mean you should take any chances with your personal safety. Indeed, we all fear bogus callers but some may prey specifically on the older members of our community. Age NI offers some smart advice below in how to deal with such threat.

Similarly, you should look for ways of limiting the chance of a fall which can be very dangerous in later life or a fire which can be deadly.

Personal alarms, indeed, may give you that added feeling of security if ever you need help.

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Bogus Callers

These callers will attempt to gain your trust on the door step so that they can gain entry into your home. Then they will distract you whilst they search for something to steal. They consider older people to be easy prey.

Most callers to your home are genuine and mean absolutely no harm to you or your property. Never be embarrassed to ask for their identification as they expect you to ask for it. They will not be concerned that they have to wait outside whilst you telephone their company to check that they are telling the truth either. Even then, if you do not open the door, it will not trouble them. Genuine callers will only be anxious to think that they disturbed you.

Follow this good advice from Age NI to help keep you and your belongings safe from bogus callers.

Remember what to do when anyone calls at your door:

  1. Close and lock any doors or accessible windows before you go out as the call could be an attempt to distract you
  2. Look through your window or spy hole
  3. Put the door chain on if you have one
  4. Ask who they are and what they want
  5. Check and verify their identification

Only then should you consider opening the door but, if you are still unsure, do not let them into your home. It is as simple as that.

It is your home and your safety comes first.

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Fall Prevention

Care should be taken around the home to minimise the risk of trips and falls. As you get older, falls are more likely because your reaction time slows. Your muscles and joints may also get stiffer, making them less flexible. Illness, medications and vision changes can also affect balance. Tips to make the home safer and reduce the risk of trips and falls include:

  • Install some basic home safety devices like secure handrails on both sides of stairs and grab bars for baths.
  • Ensure stairs and staircases are well lit. Use night-lights to brighten dark hallways, bathrooms and stairways.
  • Use non-skid bath mats or strips in the bath and shower 
  • Ensure rugs are secured or better still, do without small rugs or mats as these could easily slide. Bare floors are the best option.
  • Check that carpets are tacked firmly to each stair.
  • Ensure stairs are free from clutter and loose leads / flexes.

For further information about fall prevention visit the website of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

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Fire Prevention

Older people could be particularly vulnerable to accidental fires in the home so it is important that you are aware of the potential fire hazards around you. Simple precautions can be taken to ensure your safety and that of your home. The following is a list of possible fire hazards and what can be done to prevent an accident in the home:

  • Chip and Grill Pans – should never be left unattended when in use. Grill pans should be kept free of a build-up of fat. Deep fat fryers are preferable to use rather than the old-type chip pans.
  • Smoking – Smoking in bed or when tired and relaxing on the sofa should be avoided as a lighted cigarette could be dropped onto bedclothes or onto furniture if you drop off to sleep. Care should be taken when disposing of hot ash or cigarette butts to ensure that they are extinguished properly.
  • Electrical Appliances – should be treated with care and used as per the manufacturer’s instructions. The British Standard number or European safety mark indicates that an appliance meets certain safety standards. Check your electrical appliances from time to time and look out for worn or frayed leads, damage, loose connections, chipped or damaged plugs and rectify these immediately. Power points should never be overloaded. If electrical repairs need to be carried out, they should be done so by a qualified electrician.
  • Heaters – think about where these are placed in the home so as not to cause a tripping hazard. The room should be well ventilated, particularly where gas heaters are in use and, if necessary, any heater should have a guard around it. Clothes should never be dried close to electric heaters or on a fireguard in front of the fire.
  • Candles - should never be left unattended and, if used, should be placed on an appropriate surface away from any flammable materials.

In addition, a night time routine of checking that electrical appliances are switched off and unplugged before going to bed, closing all doors, using a fire guard and emptying ash trays will reduce the chances of a fire starting during the night.

A smoke alarm that meets British Standard BS5446 Part 1 and carries the kite mark should always be fitted, checked weekly and the battery replaced once a year.

To raise awareness of the dangers of fire in the home, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) offers a complete Home Fire Safety check.

To request the free Home Fire Safety check, telephone NIFRS on 028 92600477 or submit an online request via their website.

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Personal Alarms

Personal alarms can help you feel secure if you have one. They can also give your family peace of mind if they know that you have it on you. A personal alarm can come in the form of a pendant worn around the neck or a bracelet worn on the wrist. Instead of it making a loud alarm when activated, a monitoring service will be contacted in the same way as a home alarm system.

Personal alarm services ensure that your friends and family can be contacted at the press of a button. If needed, it will also link in with an emergency response service such as the police or ambulance. This system is generally used if you:

  • Are disabled
  • Need support
  • Are at risk of falling
  • Are worried about unwanted callers

There are a range of service providers available. Local ones include:

Task Community Care

Age NI Personal Alarm Service

Help will be on hand 24 hours a day and every day of the year.

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