I am heading to Kensington to follow up on the deadly fire that occurred this morning. Besides the personal loss for the friends and relatives of the victims, there is a very sad statistic from Montgomery County. Since January, 2005, 13 people have died in fires in the County and 12 of the victims were elderly.
Fire Chief Tom Carr has had a task force looking at this problem for quite a while. I know they have come up with a draft report on the issue. So far nothing has been made public, but the task force continues to meet.
We do know some of the best advice they have given following previous fires involving the elderly is for all of us to check on our parents and grandparents. Do an inspection of where the live and how they live. Make sure it is a fire safe environment.
I had an elderly aunt who had a deadbolt that required a key to exit the rear of the house. She kept the key in a drawer away from the door. I often asked her how she expected to find that key if the house filled with smoke. She was much more concerned about someone breaking in, so she refused to keep the key in the lock.
As Montgomery Fire spokesman Pete Piringer has said in the past, the elderly can be very set in their ways. Sometimes it takes gentle nudges from us to push them in the right direction. Of course, with luck, soon enough, we will all be on the other end of this issue.