Senior Gazette

Fall 2004
Carol Schmitkons, Amherst Township Senior Service (ATTSO) Director


Our office can provide seniors 60+ with:

  • Home-delivered meal program
  • Transportation to doctor visits
  • Medicare counseling
  • Referrals to other agencies for services we cannot provide



All meetings will be held from 11 am to 1 pm at the Amherst Eagles located at 1161 Milan Avenue.

September 20:  Amherst Fire Chief Northeim – Fire Safety

October 18:  James Brasso, audiologist – "What Do You Mean, You Can’t Hear What I Said" – a talk on hearing issues

November 15:  Visiting Nurses Association – Home Care Options

December 20:  Christmas Party with White Elephant Gift Exchange


By Carol Schmitkons

During the past few years, fire has disrupted the lives of several township seniors.  It was after the Westwood senior lost her life, and another senior couple told me that they were fortunate to have a corroded gas connection to their water heater discovered during a home weatherization check, that I began thinking about dedicating an issue of the Gazette to safety issues.

I’ll begin by relating an incident that occurred in my own family last fall.

Many home safety problems lead to disasters that could have been prevented had a home safety check been made.  Just ask my mom, Mrs. Frank Herrmann of Oberlin Road here in the township.

One cold morning last October, she decided to turn on her fuel oil furnace to warm up the house.  Within a short period of time, an alarm went off in the house.  She recognized that it wasn’t the sound her smoke alarm made so she went to find the source of the sound.  She discovered it was coming from a CO detector we had purchased for her.  She immediately called "911".

The Amherst Fire Department arrived within minutes to check the CO levels.  Mom was ushered out of the house and large fans were brought in to air out the house.  The furnace repairman who had installed a hotter, more efficient burner in the furnace over the summer was called in.  He determined that the new burner had apparently loosened the soot build-up from the malfunctioning old unit. The soot fell down to the base of the chimney and blocked the flue pipe.

Mom had a shoulder problem and was taking some strong pain medication to help her sleep at night.  I am thankful she had not turned on the furnace the night before or I might not have my mother here today.

Lessons learned:

  • Check heating and cooling systems annually
  • Have chimneys checked and cleaned regularly
  • Install both a smoke detector and a CO detector, learn to recognize the distinct sound of each, and check their batteries monthly


8:00 A.M.– Noon (M-F)


Following is a "Fire Safety Checklist for Older Americans", adapted from a pamphlet published by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, AARP, and the National Association of State Fire Marshals that lists other important items to check.

  • Install & maintain smoke detectors on every level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
  • Use smoking materials safely.  Never smoke in bed, while drowsy, or while under the influence of medication or alcohol.  Make sure ashtray contents are cool before you dispose of them.
  • Pay attention to your cooking.  Keep pot handles turned inward, & keep cooking surfaces & surrounding areas free from clutter & grease build-up.  Use potholders & oven mitts and avoid wearing loose clothing with flowing sleeves while cooking.  Take a reminder with you if you must leave the kitchen with food cooking on the range top.
  • Heat your home safely.  Keep anything that can melt or burn away from all heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, and water heaters.  Never use a range or oven to heat your home.
  • Practice electrical safety.  Have your home’s wiring system inspected every 10 years and make recommended repairs.  Never overload the electrical system.  Plug each appliance directly into its own outlet and avoid using extension cords.  Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI's) in rooms where water may be present.  Install and maintain electrical appliances according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children.
  • Know what to do in case of fire.  Practice two ways out of every room in your home.  If you use a walker or wheelchair, or otherwise might have a problem escaping from a fire, discuss your escape plans ahead of time with your fire department, your family, and your neighbors.  Get out as soon as you discover a fire.  If you are behind a closed door, feel it with your hand before opening it; if it is hot, exit the room some other way, if possible.

Make sure windows can be unlocked and opened, and security bars are released.  If you are passing through a smoky area stoop low so your head is beneath the smoke.  If your clothes catch on fire, stop, gently drop to the ground, cover your face and roll to smother the flames.  Do not try to fight the fire.  That will only delay your escape.  Leave your possessions behind, and never go back into a burning building for any reason.  Once out of the house, immediately dial "9-1-1".


Before the fall heating season begins, be sure to call your local heating contractor to schedule a furnace inspection.  Also, Amherst Township Fire Inspector, Wayne Eppley, is willing to do walk-through “Fire Safety Inspections” and will help to set up escape plans, but only at the request of property owners.  If you would like to schedule a “Fire Safety Inspection” or you need assistance with scheduling a furnace inspection, please call the office at 988-5822.  The “Fire Safety Inspection” is available to anyone in the township, although it is especially important for the elderly, the physically impaired, and those that live in mobile homes, as it is harder for them to flee in case of an emergency.  If problems are discovered, there are agencies in the community that can help the elderly, or those with low incomes, in order to cover repair or replacement costs.  Should you need help in these areas, please call Carol early in the fall before these agencies get booked up or run out of funds.


It is important to get out and vote!  If you are unable to get to your normal precinct polling location, you may stop by the Senior Service office to pick up an "absentee ballot application form".  The office is located in the Township Hall at 7530 Oberlin Road.  If you cannot get to the office, please call the office at 988-5822, and an application will be mailed to you.  Also, you can call the office if you need assistance in filling out the application form, or if you need someone to read the ballot to you.