On June 7th, four teenage boys from Oklahoma, Wyatt Hall, Dylan Wick, Seth Byrd, and Nick Byrd headed out of the house for some snacks and smelled fire. Smoke was slowly seeping from the doorframes and windows of the house next door. Only one of the boys knew their neighbor, according to CBSNews, but that didn’t matter. A life was in danger and the boys sprang into action.
Inside, ninety-year-old Catherine Ritchie was stumbling around the hallway, confused and disoriented. Catherine, still independent and spunky, had already attempted to put out the fire that had started in her bedroom, but it quickly got out of control.
Just outside, two of the boys broke the front window in an attempt to get through the door. One of them called 911 while the fourth ran around to the back door to see if he could get in that way. Smoke was already billowing into hall when Nick Byrd kicked in the back door and entered the house.
How to be Confident About Grandma’s Safety
We all worry about our senior loved ones. Grandma is high risk even without regular household hazards. In recent years, the United States has been battered with weather related disasters. There have been fires on the west coast, hurricanes inn the east, and tornadoes in the middle.
The best way to feel more confident about your independent senior is to help them to be prepared for any emergency.
Here is a free printable reference guide for National Safety Month from our friends at Clear Care.
Basic Household Preparedness
In some cases it’s imperative for your loved one to get out of the house quickly. Fires, floods, and other weather events often result in evacuations. Whatever the reason, additional lighting, removal of tripping hazards like loose rugs and electrical chords, and added support rails where necessary can make getting out of the house easier and faster.
Schedule regular fire alarm and carbon monoxide detector checks. In addition to this, some appliances or electrical device alarms can be set extra loud to alert your senior when they have been on too long or are in need of charging.
If possible, get to know Grandma’s neighbors and ask them to keep an eye out for her. Talk to your family or friends about a plan for regular check-ins. Make sure they know what to do if she doesn’t answer the door or the phone.
Emergency Evacuation Kit
If your senior loved one is in an area where evacuations occur frequently it’s a good idea to have an emergency kit ready. These can be tailored to Grandma’s unique situation and can be kept with her or at a friend or relative’s house.
Make sure the emergency kit is in a duffel or a backpack or something easily portable that you can grab quickly. The kit should include:
- Afolder with emergency contact numbers and personal numbers
- Copies of insurance
- Other important documents
- Extra medicine
- A change of clothes
- A bottle of water
These necessities will go a long way if Grandma finds herself in a tight spot and has to wait for any of these vital supplies. Have an extra set of spare keys packed away just in case. A second kit should be stored at a close friends or relatives house in case Grandma finds herself in the same situation Catherine Ritchie did earlier this month.
A Good Ending
When Nick Byrd kicked in the back door, the smoke was so thick his neighbor had only stumbled as far as the hallway. Thinking quickly, Nick scooped Catherine up in his arms and carried her out the back.
Thousands of seniors like Catherine will experience disasters this year. Thankfully for every Catherine, there is a Wyatt, Dylan, Seth, and Nick who are willing and prepared to go above and beyond to help their neighbor. Catherine was incredibly grateful to her rescuers and so were her 10 children and 42 grandchildren.