Articles - Scope of the Problem
This page will present articles from around the USA and the World which document the scope of the problem - residential fire-related deaths.
Residential fire related deaths and injuries among children: fireplay, smoke alarms, and prevention
G Istre, M McCoy, D Carlin, and J McClain
Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas, TX 75235, USA.
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Background: The aim of the study was to describe the epidemiology of residential fire related deaths and injuries among children, and identify risk factors for these injuries through a linked dataset for the city of Dallas, Texas.
Methods: Data for all residential fires were linked with fire related injury data, using fire department records, ambulance transports, hospital admissions, and medical examiner records, for children 0-19 years of age. Causes of fires, including fireplay (children playing with fire or combustibles), arson and other causes, were determined by fire department investigation.
Results: From 1991-98, 76 children were injured in residential fires (39 deaths, 37 non-fatal). The highest rates occurred in the youngest children (<5 years) and in census tracts with lowest income. Fireplay accounted for 42% (32/76) of all injuries, 62% (15/24) of deaths in children 0-4 years, and 94% (13/14) of deaths from apartment and mobile home fires. Most of the fireplay related injuries (27/32, 84%) were from children playing with matches or lighters. Most started in a bedroom. Smoke alarms showed no protective efficacy in preventing deaths or injuries in fires started by fireplay or arson, but there was significant protective efficacy for a functional smoke alarm in fires started from all other causes (p<0.01).
Conclusions: Residential fire related injuries among children in Dallas occurred predominantly in the youngest ages (<5 years) and in poor neighborhoods. Most of the deaths, especially those in apartments and mobile homes, resulted from fireplay. Smoke alarms appeared to offer no protection against death or injury in fireplay associated fires, possibly from the nature of the child’s behavior in these fires, or from the placement of the smoke alarm. Prevention of childhood residential fire related deaths may require interventions to prevent fireplay in order to be successful.