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Pensioner’s death could have been prevented

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A pensioner that died last June might have been saved if his smoke alarm had been linked to a central operator.

Alfred Hodges, a 97-year old man from Llarwst, died earlier this year from carbon monoxide poisoning, following a fire started by a toaster.

The fire, which started in Mr Hodges’ bungalow at Llys y Bioden, happened early on 26 June.

An inquest held in Llandudno, which recorded a verdict of accidental death, heard that some councils linked to a Telecare system, but that Conwy council did not.

North Wales deputy coroner Nicola Jones heard that Conwy Council are unique in North Wales in that the emergency care system is not linked directly to smoke alarms.

The inquest heard how fire fighters arrived at Mr Hodges’ residence in seven minutes.

A fire officer told the inquest hearing that Mr Hodges could have been saved if there had been a link to the Telecare control.

The coroner, however, stated that it would never be known whether there might have been a different outcome, because Mr Hodges had a severe heart problem.

Ms Jones said of the situation: “Elderly people are the most vulnerable people in society and they want to live as independently as possible.

She expressed interest in contacting the council.

“In Gwynedd and Anglesey, fire alarms are connected to the care centre. It is not a choice, it’s just done. I shall be writing to Conwy Council to ask what they were doing about this.

“Family members should be aware their emergency care alarms are not directly connected. This won’t make a difference to Mr Hodges but it could make a difference to other families.”

Community Fire Safety Officer Geraint Hughes said, of the network, that if smoke is detected, the alarms sound in the care centre and fire fighters would be sent to the house.

The inquest heard how Mr Hodges may have been unaware of the blaze as he continued with his morning routine and only became aware of the fire when he left his bedroom and saw the smoke. He did not activate the alarm that he carried with him at all times.

Speaking after the inquest, a Conwy Council spokesperson said: “Any suggestions and comments the coroner makes will be given due consideration as to whether any lessons can be learnt regarding protecting other clients in similar situations”.

 

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Nicola Hoban

Deputy Editor, Content - 2013/14

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