This week (10-16 June) is Carers’ Week, and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is officially launching its ‘Do you know a CHARLIE’ campaign.

More than 6.5 million people in the UK are currently caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is older, disabled or seriously ill. Yet many people don’t identify themselves as carers, they simply see themselves as spouses, partners, parents, children or friends.

The Fire and Rescue Service offers free Safe & Well checks, and the new campaign focuses on asking carers, both paid and unpaid, to help identify those people who are most vulnerable to the risk of fire.

To be a CHARLIE, a person needs to meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Care and support needs
  • Hoarding and/or mental health issues
  • Alcohol and medication use
  • Reduced mobility
  • Lives alone
  • Inappropriate smoking
  • Elderly – 65+

Safe & Well Manager Vikki Thomas said: “We know from our data that at least one of the CHARLIE factors comes into play in almost all of our fatal fires. We have specialist Safe & Well Advisors who can visit the home, provide advice and, wherever possible, introduce safeguards to reduce the risk of fire. However, we also know that the most vulnerable people often don’t see themselves in that way, which is why we need the help of carers to contact us and make a referral.”

The Safe & Well team is providing referral prompt cards to domiciliary care providers, GP practices, reablement teams and other professionals who will potentially be visiting people at home.

Ms Thomas said: “Anyone who needs care support is particularly vulnerable to the dangers of fire, for a variety of reasons. They may not be able to respond to a fire as quickly, they may not be able to escape a fire, they may be more at risk due to lifestyle factors, or they may use healthcare equipment or medicines which carry a fire risk, such as oxygen or emollient creams.A Safe & Well visit can identify the risks and reduce them as much as possible.”

Further advice to carers, including information on how to request a Safe & Well visit, can be found atwww.dwfire.org.uk/advice-for-carers

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