By Aly De Angelus
Two Skagway senior citizens were found dead in their homes this winter, at least two to four weeks after they had passed, prompting the fire department to devise a plan to check up on the independent residents in town, especially those without family close by or immobilized by age and medical conditions.
“He had passed away a while before we were notified,” Fire Chief Joe Rau said, referring to a Skagway resident who died in December. “We had two of those in the last couple months. They just don’t get out much, they stay in and watch TV or whatever without anybody checking on them until weeks later,” he said.
“It just makes you think,” the chief said, “how can we help these folks, so we don’t have any more of these because two in one month is something to really consider.”
Rau said he is compiling a list of names and contact information of Skagway residents who fit the bill – above middle age, a single homeowner, a loner or introverted, etc. However, Rau said the task is more challenging than one might think.
“There are … folks that fit the category so we should check on them, but a lot of those in that category have friends and family and really don’t need the fire department to do anything,” he said. “There’s a group in there that we are checking on from time to time but I want to make it available to all of them.”
The fire department aims to do in-person checkups, also offering to change smoke detectors in April and October.
“At least we can interact with them in their house, we can see how they live, make sure that they are taking care of themselves and that’s the goal, just to see a smile and help them where they need help.”
Rau said it will take a while to collect every senior and independent resident’s name and number.