Americans Recognize Risk of Fire to Older Adults
SFPE survey finds most Americans know risks of fire, but don’t think about it.
Bethesda, MD (Vocus) February 17, 2010 -- Older adults are more vulnerable to a number of risks including fire,
either at home or in assisted living facilities such as nursing homes. In a recent nationwide survey conducted by
the Society for Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE), Americans correctly identified adults age 65 and older as the
most at-risk group.
Thirty-nine percent of Americans named older adults as the most at risk of fire danger, while 26 percent of
respondents indicated that infants and toddlers were most at risk. At the same time, 63% of Americans stated they
think about fire less than once a year.
“I’m not surprised that Americans recognize the increased risk of fire to older adults. People with limited
physical and cognitive abilities, especially older adults, are at a higher risk of death from fire than other groups,”
says Chris Jelenewicz, Engineering Program Manager at SFPE. “At the same time, it’s dismaying that most
people don’t think about fire even once a year when over 3,000 people die each year as a result of fire. Without a
doubt, the public does not fully understand the enormity and seriousness of the fire problem.”
While fire is a noteworthy risk for people of all ages, federal government statistics cite older adults to be almost
twice as likely to die in a fire as compared to the rest of the population. Older adults are more likely to suffer from
reduced sensory abilities and mental capacities as well as physical disabilities. Moreover, medical devices,
cooking equipment and electrical products can pose serious fire risks to older adults.
There are numerous ways that fire protection engineers play an essential role in designing safe facilities that
house the aging population. For example, fire protection engineers analyze how buildings are used, how fires
start, how fires grow, and how fire and smoke affects people, buildings and property.