Karter, Michael J. Patterns Of Fire Deaths Among the Elderly and Children
in the Home. Fire Journal. March 1986.
Abstract: Fire deaths are most likely to occur in the age groups
of children under five and the elderly over seventy-five. The fact that
these age groups are more likely to suffer fire deaths is not new to the
fire protection community. This article examines the question why these
age groups are more susceptible to fire fatalities.
A large percentage of the fatal fires among the elderly were cooking
and smoking related. This suggests that the elderly were responsible for
igniting the fires and that most of the resulting deaths occurred near the
point of origin. This demonstrates that the elderly may not have been capable
of extinguishing the fire, or escaping its flames.
The statistics show similar results for children under age five. Seventy-six
percent of the fires that killed these children were started by matches
or lighters that ignited combustibles such as carpeting, bedding, and furniture.
This suggests that the children were responsible for lighting the fires
and that they were incapable of escaping the flames.
These statistics suggest that these two age groups suffer fire deaths
because of their limited mobility and dependency on others. They also suggest
that children and the elderly need careful attention paid to them for their
safety and the safety of others.
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