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Elderly People Require Better Fire Prevention

Elderly People Require Better Fire Prevention


If you are over seventy years old, your chances of dying in a fire at home are four times as high as they are for the rest of the population. It is also a fact that half of all women who die in house fires are 70 or older.

These are among the results of a report from SINTEF Norwegian Fire Laboratories, which also identifies measures that could reduce the number of fires, particularly those of electrical origin or that are due to the inappropriate use of electrical equipment. Taken together, these are the most frequent causes of fires in Norway.

The report also tells us how we and society as a whole can improve fire safety for our old people who live at home. For the past seven years, between 44 and 58 people have died every year in house fires in Norway.

“Without extra fire prevention measures, these figures will increase drastically as the number of elderly people rises”, says senior scientist Bodil Aamnes Mostue of SINTEF NBL.

The warning is being issued now because elderly people are heavily over-represented in lethal house fires, and because they will be more likely to live in their own homes in the future. At an average rate of population growth, the number of people aged 67 or more will more than double between now and 2050.

In its report, SINTEF NBL has estimated the economic benefit to society of more fire protection measures; in other words, this means that the institute has calculated whether the financial savings in terms of lives saved, fewer personal injuries and reduced material damage, are greater than the costs of the measures involved.

The report shows that there are measures that could be put into effect in all households and that are cost-beneficial for society – such as more frequent inspections of electrical installations. It also identifies measures that are close to being of benefit to society as a whole if they are directed specially at houses with old people.

For instance, it would be beneficial in social terms to let all households invest in a kitchen stove alarm, which is set off when the electric cooker becomes overheated, such as when a pan boils dry. Such alarms are already on the market. If they were installed in all homes, they would save three to six lives a year, the report shows.; Source: SINTEF Norwegian Fire Laboratories

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