Have you ever left a chicken, eggs or something else cooking on the stove and then you realize you left it on when you smell or see something burning or hear your smoke alarm. Lots of times we get up quickly and run over to the fire and fight to put it out or call 911. The thing about a kitchen fire is that it can happen to any one of us on any day at any given time. And according to www.ready.gov, Each year more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States, with direct property loss due to home fires estimated at $7.3 billion annually¹. It is estimated that more than half of the reported non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victims tried to fight the fire themselves. The thing about this is that the non-fatal fires were categorized as such because the individuals were most likely capable and fully functioning individuals that can fend for themselves. So what would happen to the mentally challenged, the sick or the elderly? The National Fire Data Center’s Topical Fire Report Series explores facets of the U.S. fire problem that affect Americans in their daily lives. And they found the following fire risk to older adults in 2010²:
- Older adults continue to experience a disproportionate share of fire deaths. In 2010, older adults (age 65 or older) represented 13 percent of the United States population but suffered 35 percent of all fire deaths.
- The relative risk of individuals age 65 or over dying in a fire was 2.7 times greater than that of the general population. The risk worsened as age increased. The relative risk for adults ages 65 to 74 was 1.9, but soared to 4.6 for those over the age of 84.
- Older American Indians/Alaska Natives and African-Americans were at a much greater risk of dying in a fire than their Asian/Pacific Islander or white fellow citizens. Older Asian/Pacific Islanders had 20 percent less risk than the general population.
- Older males were 62 percent more likely to die in fires than older females.
- Older adults were more vulnerable in a fire than the general population due to a combination of factors including mental and physical frailties, greater use of medications, and elevated likelihood of living in a poverty situation.
Most facts are quite alarming considering that:
- More than 5 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s (a form of Dementia)³
- In the 2004 Census 57.7 million people suffer from diagnosed mental disorder⁴
- Number of residents age 65 and over: 41.4 million (2011) ⁵
- Fires are fast and get out of control within seconds
- Fires turn black as they start to produce smoke
- Heat from a fire is more threatening than flames. A fire’s heat alone can kill. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at the floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level.⁶
- Smoke and toxic gases kill more than flames do. Fire uses us the oxygen you need and produces smoke and poisonous gases that kill. Breathing even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented and short of breath. The odorless, colorless fumes can lull you into a deep sleep before the flames reach your door. You may not wake up in time to escape.⁷
These are only a few of the categories of individuals that if they have access to a stove they can become a statistic. People with Dementia/Alzheimer’s might forget that they started cooking; whereas, people with a mental disorder might not even realize they turned on the stove or oven. People 65 and over could have some physical disability that would have decreased their mobility or could have sight and hearing problems making it difficult or impossible for them to put out the fire or escape during a fire emergency. If you or someone you know might be at risk in the kitchen, you should act as quickly as possible to prevent them from becoming a statistic. Loss of property is bad, but things can be replaced while loss of life is forever. If you or a loved one is in need of assistance in preparing meals, please contact Exclusive carecertified home health aide. We can provide your loved one with a om breakfast to dinner and everything in between. You can call us at (718) 364-4032 or visit our website at www.exclusive-care.com and help prevent kitchen fires.
⁴U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates by Demographic Characteristics. Table 2: Annual Estimates of the Population by Selected Age Groups and Sex for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2004 (NC-EST2004-02) Source: Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau Release Date: June 9, 2005. http://www.census.gov/popest/national/asrh/