Fire safety tips for seniors

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - The fall fire season is in full swing, and fire departments across the region are working to educate people about some of the risks.

Whether you're pulling out that unused space heater or starting up the fireplace for the first time this season, you want to make sure to practice safety.

The message of fire safety is for everyone, but today, Chesterfield County focused on the senior citizens.

Lt. Jason Elmore answered many questions for these seniors.

"As folks get older, their mobility gets less, so we try to give them some tips on things they can do and prepare for an emergency," said Lt. Elmore.

Something as common as a smoke detector can give seniors extra time to escape a fire, but according to senior advocate Debbie Leidheiser, smoke detectors are surprisingly neglected.

"A lot of them don't have smoke detectors, or they have smoke detectors that aren't working," said Leidheiser.

Debbie tries to hold senior safety meetings often. For many, it's a great help.

"I'm a disabled veteran. I require assistance in walking and also sometimes my mental health. Mentally, I'm not as prepared as I should be. This program has helped people like me," said Reverend Joseph Seay.

"We just wanna keep them safe and wanna make them aware of the services," said Leidheiser.

Fire officials also stressed the importance of having your chimney inspected. With older homes especially, the recent earthquake and storms may have left damage, and it may not be obvious.

Chimney fires are quite common during fire season. One happened earlier this week in Richmond. A chimney fire caused some damage to a home on Bromley Lane.

"Just a small crack with that high heat coming through there, it can go right into void spaces in your home into the attic spaces and cause a fire," said Lt. Elmore.

If you know a senior who can use more information about fire safety, you can call the senior advocates office at 768-7878.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.