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Mature Focus: Oct. 10

Focus on fire safety

Fireplace safety is one important aspect of residential fire prevention, highlighted each year during National Fire Prevention Week.

The theme of Fire Prevention Week 2018, taking place this week, is “Look. Listen. Be aware – fire can happen anywhere.” For seniors, who are more likely than people in other age groups to be victims of fires in the home, looking for and preventing potential causes of residential fire is especially important.

There are several areas of the home where fires typically start. Fires caused by smoking, cooking and faulty electrical wiring or electrical overloads remain among the most common, but several other household fire hazards can be minimized by taking preventive steps. Following are a few additional tips for fire safety provided by Gregg Boss, owner of English Sweep Chimney Services in West County.

• Maintain appliances and HVAC systems annually. Many people don’t think about fire hazards such as lint buildup in dryer vents, but vents and hoses should be professionally cleaned to prevent lint fires that can spread quickly. Gas appliances located in the basement, including furnaces and water heaters, should be checked for proper venting to the outside as well as proper operation.

• Have fireplaces, both gas and wood-burning, checked regularly for leaks and blockages. Animal nests and creosote buildup can obstruct chimneys and increase fire risk. If a fireplace smokes when lit, or if you feel heat above a gas fireplace, the fire should be put out or the gas shut off until the gas logs and chimney can be checked by a certified chimney sweep.

• Gas logs and starters should always be professionally installed. Use proper lighting techniques for gas logs and other gas appliances: Light the match first, then turn on the gas to prevent gas accumulation and explosion.  

• During indoor fire season, never dump fireplace ashes in the trash or leave them in the garage. Even ashes that are several days old can contain smoldering embers that could ignite.

• Hire only certified technicians to do all gas, electrical and HVAC maintenance in your home.

On the calendar

Free osteoporosis screenings for women are available on Friday, Oct. 26 from 2-4 p.m. at Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library, 2750 Hwy. K in O’Fallon. Advance registration is required at bjcstcharlescounty.org/Events.

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A free Veterans in Advance Planning seminar, presented by Baue, is on Thursday, Nov. 1 from 9-10 a.m. at Progress West Hospital, 2 Progress Point Parkway in O’Fallon, in Conference Room B. Learn from experts about the many veteran benefits available in funeral pre-planning. Registration is preferred by visiting bjcstcharlescounty.org/Events.

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St. Louis Oasis presents a free program, Healthy Habits for Adults – Limiting Sugar, on Monday, Nov. 5 from 2-3 p.m. at the Corporate Parkway Branch, 1200 Corporate Parkway in Wentzville. Learn efficient ways to reduce sugar without sacrificing flavor in your diet. Register online at bjcstcharlescounty.org/Events. 

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BJC presents a Lunch and Learn program focused on how to maintain kidney health on Wednesday, Nov. 14 from noon-1 p.m. at Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library, 2750 Hwy. K in O’Fallon. Refreshments will be served. The program is free. Advance registration is required by visiting bjcstcharlescounty.org/Events.

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An AARP Smart Driver Course is offered on Wednesday, Nov. 14 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, 10 Hospital Drive in St. Peters, in Medical Office Building 1, Suite 117. This four-hour training course will help seniors tune up their driving skills, update their knowledge of the rules of the road and provide education on age-related physical changes to reduce traffic violations, crashes and chances of injuries. Some insurance companies also offer a discount to participants. The course fee is $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members [payable on AARP on the day of training]. Space is limited. Register online at bjcstcharlescounty.org/Events.

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