2. Residential Fires Disproportionately Impact Vulnerable Populations

Key Messages

  • The very old and the very young are at highest risk of death from home fires.
    • Older adults over age 65 are twice as likely to die due to home fires as compared to the general public.
    • Persons age 85 and over are four times more likely to die in a home fire as compared the general public.
    • Children under age five are one and a half times more likely to die in a home fire as compared to the general public. Forty percent of children who die in home fires are under age five.
    • Both age groups are more likely to be asleep, less likely to wake up to smoke alarms, and may lack mobility or have slower reaction times. Physical disabilities and abilities may play a key role in their ability to escape from a fire.
    • Children may not sense fire danger; hide instead of leaving a burning home; have limited knowledge and/or mental capacity to understand the dangerous nature of fire; and are more likely to play with fire.
    • Use of certain medications and alcohol can make adults more vulnerable to fire-related injuries and deaths.
  • The risk of fire-related death for African Americans is almost twice that of individuals of any other race. African Americans represent 25% of individuals killed in residential fires.
    • Fifteen percent of African American fire victims are children under age five, as compared to only eight per cent of white fire victims.
  • Increased death and fire incidence rates are associated with low-income populations (those living under the poverty line.)
  • Increased death and fire incidence rates are associated with adults over age 25 who have fewer than 12 years of schooling.

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