The FDNY is providing and installing free of charge smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the homes of seniors and other residents in the Community Board 10 and Community Board 14 area — including Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways — which were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Lt. Chris Hogan, program coordinator for the FDNY Foundation, said the focus is on hurricane-damaged communities because there has been an increase in serious fires in those areas since the storm nearly a year ago.
Hogan said his unit would visit the home of any resident in a Sandy-affected area who requests their service and perform a home-safety review with recommendations to improve fire safety along with distribution of free sensors.
Hogan said the program is particularly aimed at senior citizens because they are particularly vulnerable to fires.
In 2012, the FDNY recorded 58 deaths due to fires, a lower number than in the past, but 43 percent of those were aged 70 or older.
“If we get to the seniors, we think that we can bring down that number,” Hogan said.
At a recent CB 10 meeting, Chairwoman Betty Braton said the board’s area has a high population of residents over 75, adding that Lindenwood ranks particularly high in the city when it comes to the number of seniors.
Hogan said the FDNY also wants to reach out to hard-of-hearing individuals and provide them with Lifetone alarms which sync to the smoke alarm and alert hearing-impaired individuals with three loud “chirps” when it detects that the smoke alarm is sounding.
His presentation will also include discussing the type of home an individual lives in and the challenges it presents from a fire safety point of view, having an evacuation plan as a family in the event of a fire in the home, getting out, meeting outside the home, special needs of community residents and the importance of having a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector.
Hogan urged residents to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors frequently and to change the batteries every six months. Older devices — generally smoke detectors over 10 years old and carbon monoxide detectors that are between five and seven years old — should also be replaced.
He added that homeowners and apartment dwellers should also have a fire extinguisher on hand capable of putting out various types of household fires. When using the device, he said, residents should pull the pin, aim the nozzle at the base of the flames, squeeze the trigger and spray the area while staying close to a safe way out of the area.
Hogan also offered fire safety tips:
In the event a grease fire breaks out in the kitchen in a pot or pan, residents should try to cover the fire with a lid. If no cover can be found, baking soda can be sprinkled over the flames until they are extinguished.
Lit candles should also never be left unattended, and all discarded cigarette butts should be doused with water to ensure that they are not smoldering.
Should a fire grow out of control the entire home should be evacuated and, once all occupants are outside in a safe area, 911 should be called.
For further information on fire safety for Sandy-affected seniors, contact Hogan at (718) 281-3872.
The Fire Department also offers free CPR courses to businesses, civic groups, schools and other organizations anywhere in the city. For information on those, call (718) 281-3888 or go online to nyc.gov/fdny/cpr.