The crew arrived at Sam Wormus’ home with smoke alarms, a carbon monoxide detector and a few basic tools. Wormus greeted the four volunteers with a smile and invited them into his house, where they soon set to work installing the devices.
The four were among more than two dozen volunteers from the Reveille Rotary Club of Casper and others who traveled around Casper Saturday to check and replace alarms at the homes of nearly 50 senior citizens.
This is the fourth year the club has performed the checks and installations every spring and fall around daylight savings time in partnership with local firefighters, Blue Envelope, AARP, Alliance Electric and other organizations, Casper Fire-EMS inspector and Rotarian Justin Smith said. The local effort is based on a fall and fire prevention program of the National Fire Protection Association, Smith said.
People by age 65 are twice as likely to die or be injured in a fire, and the chances rise to three times more likely by 75 and four times after age 80, Smith said, citing statistics from the national program. The number one reason for senior injuries is falling, so the local project also focuses on fall prevention, he added.
“When you start talking about seniors, falls and fires are two of the things that threaten them most,” Smith said. “You can’t beat that feeling of knowing you’re doing something good on behalf of other people in your community, and obviously that’s what the Rotary Club is focused on and what the fire department is focused on.”
Smith explained the process to the volunteers Saturday morning at the Casper Senior Center before they set out on their routes. He instructed them to make sure that smoke alarms meant to last 10 years are installed appropriately in every bedroom and floor of the house and replace smoke detectors with varieties that last longer. Besides a reliable alarm, the longer-lasting batteries mean seniors won’t need to climb a chair or ladder to change batteries every year, Smith said.
They also offered nightlights and replaced burned-out lightbulbs. Volunteers also could offer to do other odd jobs like setting back clocks, especially if they’re high on a wall.
Carolyn Griffith teamed with fellow Rotary Club member David Hough, along with Casper College fire science student Josh Petersen and electrician Tim Ahumuza and headed for their first stop of the day, the Wormus’ home.
Griffith introduced the team as soon as they came through the front door. Sam Wormus introduced his wife, Patsy, and told the visitors that it was their 67th anniversary that day. The team asked where the residents already have smoke alarms. Sam pointed to one in the hall outside the bedroom and said there was one in the garage.
Ahumuza replaced the alarm in the hall with a 10-year model and then installed two more in the basement. Petersen and the rest placed smoke alarms in other rooms and set a carbon monoxide filter in the hall outside the couple’s bedroom. The house is all electric with no furnace, so there’s a lower risk of a carbon monoxide leak. But it still can happen, Hough told Wormus.
“Generally, they recommend it be close to where your sleeping area is,” Hough said. “Oftentimes, it’s in your utility room that is where the problem would occur. But if the alarm is there, that doesn’t help you if you’re at the other end of the house.”
Petersen has enjoyed volunteering for the project in previous years, because it makes the community a safer place, he said. The seniors also are appreciative. It was the first time for Ahumuza, who agreed to help while on a job recently at the senior center.
“It’s something I’m familiar with and that people may need help with,” Ahumuza said.
The group left information about services for seniors, including how to discard unused prescriptions, fraud protection, fall prevention and local services for seniors including household help. They may not need it now, but they’d have the information just in case anything changes, Hough said.
Wormus was glad other seniors in town will be safer too, especially those who can’t get around as well as he and Patsy do, he added.
“It’s a wonderful program,” Sam said.
He thanked the volunteers as he shook their hands before the crew headed out for their next stop.