Fred Durso

NIST report: Human frailty a contributing factor in home fire deaths

Blog Post created by Fred Durso Employee on Aug 28, 2017

A new study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) emphasizes the likelihood of either dying or getting injured in home fires based on certain age groups. 

 

The study "Identifying vulnerable populations to death and injures from residential fires," determined that home fire deaths are more likely among frail populations, or what researchers have identified as people age 65 and older and not in robust health. Adults between the ages of 20 and 49 are more likely to acquire nonfatal injuries during home fires. Published this month in the research journal Injury Prevention, the study used data over a five-year period from the U.S. Census, the National Fire Incident Reporting System, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

 

NFPA's research also confirms that older adults are at high risk of dying in fire. According to its "Characteristics of Home Fire Victims" report, 30 percent of all home fire fatalities were at least 65 years old, even though this group represents only 13 percent of the U.S. population. 

 

"Our findings indicate that frailty, especially in elderly populations, hinders the ability to escape and should be recognized as a key factor in home fire deaths," stated NIST economist Stanley Gilbert, one of the study's authors. "Therefore, measures to overcome this population-specific vulnerability, such as automatic sprinklers in bedrooms, may help reduce the number of fatalities." 

 

Brush up on all the research underscoring today's home fires and fire sprinkler effectiveness by visiting NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.

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