Elderly taught about safety

2015-07-29 06:00
OUMA Dorah Galeboe(74) watched in confusion as the Police vans and Fire brigades arrived at her home at Galeshewe Association for the Care of the Aged and Disabled(gaasca) in a loud sirenes
Boipelo Mere

OUMA Dorah Galeboe(74) watched in confusion as the Police vans and Fire brigades arrived at her home at Galeshewe Association for the Care of the Aged and Disabled(gaasca) in a loud sirenes Photos: Boipelo Mere

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OUMA Dorah Galeboe (74) sat and watched in confusion as police vans and fire brigades arrived at her home at the Galeshewe Association for the Care of the Aged and Disabled (Gaasca) with loud sirens.

In an effort to see where the fire was, curious members of the community also came running when they heard the sirens. They could only see smoke coming from the direction of the centre.

Galeboe was among the elderly people who were cleared from the hall in a hurry after the fire department, SAPS and the emergency services had been called to the scene of the fire.

Mixed feelings were later experienced from the community after they had realised that it was just a fire drill that was practised at the centre.

While some were disappointed, others applauded the centre for its efforts of teaching the elderly hints to stay safe, especially during the cold and windy seasons.

Although Gaasca admitted to still lacking some of the essential emergency equipment in and around its premises, it saw the need to eliminate safety risks at its centre by practising a fire drill on Wednesday (15/07).

The management admitted that this was the first drill since the establishment of the centre. Although the practice was a difficult one due to the slow pace of the elderly people who participated in it, the message was conveyed to the relevant people.

According to the centre manager, Joseph Thomas, the fire drill was necessitated by the centre’s recent upgrade of the fire extinguishers in the elders’ rooms and the office.

“We must admit that we have been at risk in a way because some of the fire extinguishers we had were outdated and not serviced while some had been stolen.”

Irene Njovu, Gaasca coordinator and programme officer, added that they also saw the importance of teaching the elderly how to use the fire extinguishers because some of them do not know how to use them while some needed to be reminded due to their old age.

She promised that they would improve on the safety measures after the release of the assessment results by the fire department.

After a demonstration by one of the centre’s tenants, Enoch Leburu, the elderly were reminded by the Station Commander at the Sol Plaatje Fire Department, Fuad Marhi, that it was the men’s responsibility to ensure the safety of the women during emergencies.

“When there is a fire, do not go to the fire, rather activate the alarm and clear the area of people.

“The men who can walk have to ensure that the women and everyone who is unable to walk, including those in wheelchairs and on crutches, move to a safe place,” advised Marhi.

“In a situation where there is a fire and a person is too heavy for you to carry, rather put him or her on a blanket and drag him from the fire.”

Urging the elderly never to underestimate any kind of fire, the station commander urged the elderly to never ever go to bed with a heater on or with a cigarette lit.

“I love elderly people very much, so I do not want to be called in here to extinguish a fire.”

Another safety drill will be held in the form of an information session where other sectors will share talks with the elderly at Gaasca.

They could not all make presentations on the same day due to communication challenges.

Thomas sent a request to the community and businesses to assist the centre with any kind of safety related hints.

“We are trying the best we can in addressing matters related to health and safety. We do not want to end up committing any offence by not practising safety aspects.”

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