Smoke alarms save lives

Kerrie is sitting outside in her garden with Scooter on her lap. Scooter is a gorgeous small brown and white dog with floppy ears. Kerrie has a big happy smile on her face.

Kerrie owns a neat-as-a-pin property in a suburb of Hobart with shimmering water views and a stunning garden perfect for showcasing her floristry skills.

She shares her home with Scooter, a 12-year-old Jack Russell full of bounce and character and a penchant for treats.

In her early 40s, Kerrie was referred to Anglicare several months ago when a chronic pain condition that affects her mobility significantly worsened, making housework very difficult for her.

But when Anglicare’s home care team visited Kerrie’s home to meet her and develop a care plan to meet her needs, they found that there wasn’t a smoke alarm installed – a pre-requisite for any of our in-home services.

“My father and brother are long-term volunteers with the Cambridge Fire Brigade and I was brought up to be aware of fire safety, including the importance of smoke alarms,” Kerrie explains. “I’d been renovating and taken down my alarm and hadn’t got around to replacing it. This prompt from Anglicare forced me into getting one straight away.”

Kerrie’s weekly cleaning service started and she loves heading into the weekend with a pristine house, just the way she likes it. She also enjoys the company of her cleaners: “Trista, Ella and Sushmita are all fabulous,” she says.

It was only a month later early one morning when the new smoke alarm proved its worth. Kerrie woke to a “screaming” alarm and a house filled with dense smoke, and Scooter was barking frantically.

“I rang my dad straight away and he told me to get air into the house and to stay low. The only way I could do this was to crawl, using my walker, which was a real challenge. Once I knew Scooter was all right I didn’t worry too much about him – he can’t get much closer to the ground than he is already!

“My dad thinks an unusual wind direction in the previous days had caused a build-up of creosote in the chimney of my wood heater,” Kerrie says.

“There’s a chance I may not be sitting here today, if it wasn’t for Anglicare.”

Kerrie is a classically trained organist and loved the positive buzz of her job as a florist before ill health forced her to retire. Now she finds playing the piano, pottering in the garden, the company of Scooter, her partner and family and regular meditation help her to stay positive and fully enjoy each day.

“I’ve learned to be grateful for what I have and to never be afraid to ask for help,” she says. “It’s amazing how everything starts to fall into place when you change your mindset.”


Keeping your home safe from fire

The Tasmania Fire Service responds to more than 350 house fires each year – the highest rate in Australia. House fires can occur at any time of the year and for a variety of reasons, such as a faulty electric blanket, when clothing is placed too close to a wood heater or even something as simple as a build-up of crumbs in your toaster!

Of particular concern to the Tasmania Fire Service is the incorrect use of the wheat-filled heat packs (also known as wheat bags) that are commonly used to manage pain. If these packs are over-heated in the microwave, used to warm bedding or stored before being cooled down, they can easily catch fire. Last month a Tasmanian coroner recommended that people immediately stop using wheat packs without instructions, after several of the bags were found to have caused a fatal house fire in the State’s South last year.

Please take a look at some short and informative videos on the Tasmania Fire Service Facebook page and fact sheets on smoke alarms and wheat bags.

Anglicare home care services staff have benefited from the Home Fire Risks in the Community program run by the Tasmania Fire Service for community service organisations. The program’s focus is on reducing the fire injury and fatality rate in Tasmania by developing hazard reporting systems, improving referral supports and offering sector worker training to ensure people receiving care in their homes are safer.

Program manager Lesley King says:  “Tasmania has the highest fire fatality rate per capita in Australia and in us all working together towards better home fire safety in the community, we can reduce that rate to zero.” For further information on this program, email Lesley.king@fire.tas.gov.au

If you are interested in learning more about Anglicare’s home care services, please telephone us on 1800 466 300.



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