Sometimes you must ask yourself ....

  Clapton is God 13:03 04 Dec 2010

whether or not you're a good neighbour.

Unfortunately, within the last hour, a tragedy has been played out in our small close of 11 houses.

It started with a stranger approaching me as I returned from shopping and drove onto our driveway. He asked if I’d seen his brother recently (an elderly gentleman in his 80’s) who lives next-door-but-one to us.

I told him that my wife and I had seen him in the street last Sunday but not since then.

30 minutes or so later two police cars and an ambulance arrived outside and disgorged their passengers who, having failed to rouse our neighbour (who is deaf), proceeded to break down his front door.

Having presumably searched his house, 20 minutes later a funeral car arrived outside. Shortly afterwards a stretcher, with body, was carried from our neighbour’s house into the funeral car.

The point of my post is to ask myself whether or not my wife and I should have checked on our neighbour during the last week when we’ve been buried under 12 inches of snow locally?

I’ll probably never know.

  Forum Editor 13:15 04 Dec 2010

and one which will ring a bell in many peoples' minds. It certainly does in mine because I've been involved in a similar incident. I was visiting a client at home once, and while I was parking the car I noticed a policewoman standing at the door of a nearby house. She was peering through the letterbox, and looking concerned, so I asked of I could help.

To cut a long story short, I helped her break open the door, and when we searched the house together we found a woman's body lying on the patio outside the back door. Her neighbour had not seen her for some time, and called the police, but she hadn't done so for five days - you can imagine the state of a body that had been outside for a few days in the summer.

We have probably all felt pangs of guilt at some point about not checking on older neighbours who live alone. Often we don't do it for fear of 'interfering' in other peoples' affairs, but perhaps we should worry less about that, and more about our neighbours, particularly in cold weather.

  Cymro. 13:25 04 Dec 2010

A very sad but useful lesson to us all. We can`t turn the clock back and so must just try to put such things behind us.

  peter99co 13:44 04 Dec 2010

A chap near us had a signal system set up with a friend on opposite side of road. He would open his bedroom curtains fully if all was well but only open one side if he needed help. If closed after a certain time of day ring his son who had a key. This was some years ago when Mobiles were not so available.

One day the cutains were closed and his son found he had passed away.

  Cymro. 13:55 04 Dec 2010

There is a story of a woman who had moved some distance away from her aged father. The old man was illiterate as many were back in the 19th. century.

The woman who had had some schooling would post an envelope to her father with just a stamped self addressed envelop to herself inside.

The old man would then just post the envelope back to his daughter so that she knew he was alright.

If no envelope arrived the woman knew her father was in trouble. What a very different world it used to be but still I think we live in better times all in all.

  peter99co 14:06 04 Dec 2010

My dad had an alarm which he wore that would allow him to call for help by just pressing a red button on it. It connected to a phone which also had a red button. It was monitored by some organisation who would ring back if the button was pressed. He could even talk via the alarm he wore I think. The phone had a few preprogrammed numbers of nearest friends or relatives set up on it.

  Bingalau 16:41 04 Dec 2010

As I live on my own, I guess I can learn from these happenings too. The problem is once again you don't expect them to happen to you. I nearly always have access to a phone of some description (a mobile one when I go out). But I realise there is nothing to stop me tripping up in the garden and banging my head on a hard surface. (No adverse comments Brumas/MacScouse please). It may not be possible for me to get back in to the house to phone on the land line and I wouldn't bother to take my mobile in to the garden. I suppose I could lie there unconscious for days too. But as I just said, "I don't think it will happen to me!!!!"

  Bingalau 16:42 04 Dec 2010

I don't think the alarm system peter99co talks about comes cheap otherwise we would all have them.

  peter99co 16:52 04 Dec 2010

click here

Not what Dad used but similar.

  BT 16:55 04 Dec 2010

There are some sensibly priced systems available which can be programmed with several numbers.

click here

The other option is from Age UK which costs a bit more.
click here

  morddwyd 20:44 04 Dec 2010

They can be free.

My wife has one, provided by the council.

Couple of other relevant things.

In the days before central heating my mother lived in a small Leicestershire village.

Any house which didn't have smoke coming out of the chimney by 11.00 am had neighbours knocking at the door.

A few years ago an automatic alarm system was produced that sat quietly in the toilet cistern.

If the toilet was not flushed for 12 hours the alarm was triggered. (the time could be programmed of course).

It never seemed to catch on commercially.

There are also movement alarms, or rather "no movement" alarms which will trigger a box on the outside of the house, like a burglar alarm.

In fact my kitchen light switch is in an awkward place and I've replaced it with a PIR switch.

I suppose it would be fairly simple for me to ask a neighbour to come knocking if they didn't see my kitchen light come on for a couple of days.

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