fire safety older adult
Photo: U.S. Fire Administration

USFA: Adults age 50-plus at increased risk of dying in a fire

October 10, 2019

Emmitsburg, MD — Adults 50 and older have a greater-than-average risk of dying in a fire, according to data published in the September edition of the U.S. Fire Administration’s “Topical Fire Report Series.”

Using 2017 data from the National Center for Health Statistics, researchers examined 3,645 fire-related deaths and 14,670 fire-related injuries to determine who is at greatest risk.

The relative risk of fire-related death begins to exceed the average – by 1.1 times – for people ages 50-54. At 60-64 years old, that risk rises to 1.8 times the average, and at 70-74, climbs to 2.3 times. The highest risk was for adults in the 85-and-older range, which was 3.8 times above normal. The researchers note that the fire-related death risk likely rose with age because of physical and cognitive limitations among older adults.

Additional findings:

  • The greatest percentage of fire-related deaths were among adults age 60-64 (11% of the total deaths).
  • Fire-related injuries were highest among adults age 25-29 and 30-34 (each at 8.6% of the total).
  • Males were 1.6 times more likely than females to die in fires.
  • People living in the Midwest (12.9 deaths per 1 million population) and Southern U.S. (12.5) were at greater risk.

USFA states in the report that it is continually working with partner agencies and organizations to improve smoke alarm technology.