Seniors Focus of New Fla. Fire Safety Program

October 6, 2004

Each year, fire reportedly claims the lives of Florida’s elderly more than any other age group.

To combat that sobering trend, the Department of Financial Services and State Fire Marshal’s Office have teamed up with the Department of Elder Affairs to launch a new education program targeting the state’s seniors. The announcement of the program was also aimed at bringing attention to Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 3-9.

“Fire prevention is one of the keys to independent living for Florida’s seniors,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who also serves as State Fire Marshal. “The more information they have, the more our citizens can do to minimize their risk of being injured by fire.”

Georgia Belle Apartments, a Tallahassee residence for senior citizens, was chosen for the launch of the program because 10 years ago residents were chased from their homes by an early morning fire. More than 100 people were treated for injuries.

The following statistics reportedly indicate the need for fire safety education among older adults:

• Thirty-seven percent of residential fires begin in the kitchen because of a pot left cooking on the stove.
• Electrical fires are most likely to occur in the bedroom where outlets and extension cords may be overloaded by space heaters, electric blankets and heating pads.
• Elders age 75 and older are more likely to die from carbon monoxide poisoning than any other age group.

“Because elders are more likely than any other age group to die in a fire, we want to help older adults and caregivers understand how they can prevent fires,” said Deputy Secretary of Elder Affairs Susan Tucker. “Fire safety is an important part of helping seniors continue living independently in their own homes.”

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