Firefighters give tips to AARP members

Published 11:11 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Picayune Area AARP Chapter 1717 learned senior fire safety tips during their most recent meeting.

Last Monday, three Picayune firefighters from Fire Station #3, Ricky Saul, Earl Fortenberry and John Mitchell, joined the meeting to discuss fire protection, prevention and other tips. The firefighters were introduced by AARP Vice President Frank Egger.

Saul, who said he often gives talks to both adults and children about fire safety, read what he thought was a disturbing fact from one of his handouts: “Americans over the age of 65 have a fire death rate nearly twice the national average. For those over 75, this jumps to three times the national average.”

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“We teach everyone to have an escape plan,” said Saul. He offered several tips, from always knowing exactly where everyone in the house is located to having a designated meeting place outside of the residence for family members to gather and check-in with each other, in the event of a fire. “Once you get out you should never, ever go back in.”

He offered the group a home fire safety checklist and said that everyone should be able to check off all of the items on the list or there was a serious problem.

Questions from the group allowed the three firefighters to discuss all the changes and updates being made to the fire stations within the Picayune district, such as the new fire station being built on Lofton Road and the acquisition of an arson dog.

Russell Foster, Picayune area AARP president, asked about grease fires in skillets. Saul said the best solution was to put a lid on it, a dry lid, and never pour water on a grease fire.

The three firefighters also talked briefly about fire extinguishers, saying the best ones to have are 10 pound, ABC extinguishers, meaning the extinguisher can handle most common types of fires (wood, chemical, electrical, ect.) These fire extinguishers are easily purchased in stores such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot. When using the PASS (pull, aim, squeeze and sweep) technique, fires are extinguished within seconds. “You will be amazed at how fast this puts a fire out,” Saul said.

Finally, he urged seniors to take advantage of the smoke alarm program available through the Picayune Fire Department. One time use smoke alarms are available to all area seniors just by calling the Picayune Fire Department, 601-798-7862.