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A tragic reminder to every one of us

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 18/01/2016

The house where the blaze took place
The house where the blaze took place

The news of a death is always a sombre reminder of the frailty of our humanity, and the loss of a young life is always a particular tragedy.

This is true of Ellen Finnegan, aged only 19, who has died in a fire at Castlewellan.

Even more poignantly, this took place on the third anniversary of the death of her mother, who also passed away at a young age.

It is incomprehensible as to why some people have to suffer so much, down the generations.

All our hearts go out to this grieving family, and also to Ellen's friends, who have mourned her untimely death, with heart-rending scenes at a service for her.

Ellen was a bright young woman who had won a place at university. Now this is all "what might have been", and it is difficult for her young friends, and people of older age groups, to come to terms with reality.

Death is hard enough for older people to bear, but it is especially traumatic for young people who are faced with its reality, for the first time in their lives. There are no words to describe what this can mean.

The flat where Ellen died had no smoke alarm, and the local fire chief has underlined the need for everyone to make sure that their home has an alarm, in good working condition.

Modern smoke alarms are inexpensive and relatively easy to install, and although many of us have good intentions about taking precautions for our safety, we do not always get round to taking action, or checking that the alarms actually work.

This dreadful tragedy should be a reminder to all of us to make safety a major priority in our lives. We need to decide once and for all to install smoke alarms, and to make sure also that, if possible, other people in our homes are also aware of where these alarms are situated, and of the need to check them regularly.

Most of our lives are so busy nowadays that it is easy to make good resolutions, but so many of us forget to carry them out.

The installation of smoke alarms, and checking their conditions periodically, can be so easily overlooked, but in essence the careful attention to such tasks may save your life, and those of your loved ones some day.

It is very sad indeed that the death of a young woman, who had so much of her life ahead of her, is also a grim reminder that fire can so easily kill, and that we must do everything we can to protect ourselves.

This is a stark warning for every one of us.

Belfast Telegraph

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