Senior Safety Marshals Help Reduce Fire Risk

In the crowded Lily Café, the Prevention 1st Senior Safety Marshals know how to get and keep the attention of their peers. They begin their presentation with a stark fact: “People our age are 6 times more likely to die in a fire.”

The Senior Safety Marshals then share stories of mistakes they themselves have made that put them at risk—a candle left smoldering, falling asleep while smoking, coming home from a night out and carelessly frying some chicken. Their audience nods in recognition. They have all made careless mistakes that could have turned into tragedies.

Finally, the team shares with their fully engaged audience such simple but effective strategies as keeping a phone next to the bed, having good night lighting, turning off the cooktop if they leave the kitchen while cooking, and taking proper precautions if they have oxygen tanks in their home.

Through funding from the John F. Wegman Fund of the Rochester Area Community Foundation and Prevention 1st donors, Prevention 1st recruited and trained the six Safety Marshals through the Lily Café program run by Lifespan at the Maplewood YMCA. Prior to their six weeks of training together, most of the team members didn’t know each other. Now, “we’re a family.”

They’re spreading fire safety messages throughout their communities. Bill, who lives in a housing complex of four buildings, has recruited three volunteers to work with him as fire monitors, communicating with residents about preparation and response and checking fire escapes to make sure they are clear. Sheron is now regularly posting fire safety information and reminders to her friends through Facebook. Inez is determined to make sure that all of her neighbors have working smoke alarms: “The young think ‘It can’t happen to me’ and the old think ‘It hasn’t happened to me yet.’ Well, it can. I ask my neighbors, did you check your smoke alarm, did you change the battery?”

Robert Crandall, the Prevention 1st trainer who trained the Senior Safety Marshals and who is a retired firefighter, noted the effectiveness of this peer-to-peer strategy: “The fire department tells people these things all the time, but when the information is personalized and comes from a peer and neighbor, people are more motivated to take action.”

As the population 65 and older continues to grow, this model has an important role in community safety and in reducing the burden of caregiving, according to Michelle LeBoo, Lifespan Program Coordinator: “They’re providing a type of caregiving. They are caring for their peers, helping them avoid injuries and remain in their homes safely for a longer time.”

Following their presentation to their fellow Café participants, the team is scheduling additional trainings at area senior centers, residences, and other community program sites. They’re also reaching out to potential sponsors to enhance the program with additional safety giveaways and materials, and to attract others to become more involved in fire safety.

In addition to working with the Lily Café participants, the Prevention 1st training team presented to the staff and key volunteers of an additional ten senior organizations, including the Monroe County Office for the Aging, Refugees Helping Refugees, Ontario ARC, Bay View Family YMCA, Monroe Community Hospital, Catholic Family Center, Charles Settlement House, and the Summit at Brighton, ultimately reaching well over 1,000 older adults.

If you’d like to learn more about the Senior Safety Marshals program, please contact Molly Clifford at (585) 383-6507 or MollyClifford@prevention1st.org

Protect Your Hearing

Protect Your Hearing

When we think of preventable injuries, we may not think of our ears. But hearing loss is a growing health issue for both adolescents and older Americans, with 48 million people nationwide suffering from hearing loss.

The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable. Take these tips from the National Hearing Loss Association of America.

 

Remember, the noise is too loud when:

  • You have to raise your voice to be understood by someone standing nearby;
  • The noise hurts your ears;
  • You develop a buzzing or ringing sound in your ears, even temporarily;
  • You don’t hear as well as you normally do until several hours after you get away from the noise.

Protect yourself by:

  • Following the “60/60 Rule,” which means limiting the use of ear bud headphones to 60 minutes at a time and at 60 percent of the device’s maximum volume;
  • When around loud noise, protect yourself by:
  • Turning down the volume if you can;
  • Blocking the noise (with earplugs or ear defenders);
  • Avoiding the noise (put your hands over your ears if you can’t walk away).

Protect your children and teens as well, especially by monitoring their use of personal listening devices. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Listening to loud music though ear buds – the tiny electronic speakers that fit into ears – is probably the main reason that more adolescents are losing some of their hearing.” If your child is wearing ear buds and you can hear the sound while standing next to them, the music is too loud.

Ototoxic medications, including some over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin in high doses, some antibiotics, and some chemotherapy drugs, can also cause hearing loss. Ask your doctor if hearing loss is one of the possible side-effects of a medication and if it is, whether there is a substitute medication that would work just as well for you.

Learn more about how to prevent, diagnose, and live with hearing loss.