Fire fatalities in older people.

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVE: To compare the epidemiology of fire-related fatalities among older, middle-aged, and young people. DESIGN: Retrospective case series. SETTING: Alabama, 1992-1997. PARTICIPANTS: All persons fatally injured in fire-related incidents in the state of Alabama from 1992 to 1997. MEASUREMENTS: The State Fire Marshal's Office provided both demographic and autopsy information about the victim. In addition, information regarding the nature and circumstances of the fire was also obtained. RESULTS: Between 1992 and 1997, there were 674 fire-related deaths in the state of Alabama. The fire-related fatality rate was highest among older persons. The fatality rate was particularly high among older black people. The rate of fatal fires caused by heating devices was higher (15.0%) among older people compared with their young and middle-aged counterparts (6.3% and 4.5%, respectively). Fatalities among older people were least likely (26.0%) to occur if smoke detectors were present, compared with deaths among young and middle-aged persons (38.3% and 33.5%, respectively). There were fewer smoke detectors present in the fatal fires of older rural black adults and white adults (0.0% and 29.0%, respectively) compared with their urban counterparts (25.0% and 47.0%, respectively). Alcohol was not a factor in fatal fires involving older adults (29.0%) compared with those involving the young (52.0%) and middle-aged adults (73.9%). CONCLUSIONS: With the growth of the percentage of older people in the population, the problem of fire-related deaths in this age group is likely to increase. Interventions focused on this age group are necessary for the state of Alabama to meet the National Health Objectives for the year 2000.
  • Authors


  • Accidents, Accidents, Home, Adolescent, Adult, African Americans, Age Factors, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Alabama, Alcohol Drinking, Cause of Death, Child, Female, Fires, Heating, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Protective Devices, Retrospective Studies, Rural Health, Smoke, Urban Health, Whites
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • McGwin G; Chapman V; Curtis J; Rousculp M
  • Start Page

  • 1307
  • End Page

  • 1311
  • Volume

  • 47
  • Issue

  • 11