In 2011, 3,415 deaths and 17,500 injuries were caused by fires in the U.S., according to newly released statistics by the U.S. Fire Administration.
The agency noted that those that were low income, living in the South, and aged 50 and over were at a higher risk of dying from a fire.
The agency released statistics via its topical fire report, Fire Risk in 2011, which included the following findings:
- Adults age 50 or older had a greater relative risk of dying in fires than the general population. The elderly age 85 or older had the highest risk of fire death.
- The relative risk of fire injury was greatest for the 20- to 54-year-olds and those 85 and older.
- While lower than the relative risk of the general population, children age 4 and under faced an elevated risk of both injury and death in a fire when compared to older children (age 5 to 14).
- Males were 1.5 times more likely to die in fires than females.
- African-Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives were at a greater relative risk of dying in a fire than the general population.
The likely reasons for the higher rate of fire deaths in older adults and in lower income households include physical disabilities, prescription medications, and substandard housing.
The report noted that the risk of dying in a fire for people living in the South was higher than for populations living in other regions of the United States. This was attributed to a reduced need for heating in the winter, hence many homes do not have central heating systems and owners tend to use portable heaters instead.
By 2060, the number of those aged 65 and older will rise to 92 million adults – more than double the amount in 2011. This increase will likely lead to an increase in fire deaths. To counter that possibility, the USFA is working on a number of improvements, including outreach programs, advancing smoke alarm technologies and the use of residential sprinklers.
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