With home fires on the rise in winter months, and a new study showing that young children are at an especially high risk of getting seriously injured or dying in residential fires, today the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Commission on Children and Disasters are announcing a new public awareness campaign to help keep children and families safer from the threat of home fires.
As part of this effort, today FEMA's U.S. Fire Administration is releasing a new report on the risks fires pose to children. The report, which is based on the latest available data released by the National Center for Health Statistics, found that young children face the greatest - and a growing - risk of death or serious injury in home fires, with 52 percent of all child fire deaths in 2007 involving children under the age of four, a slight increase from the most recent study previously conducted in 2004. Click here for a copy of the report (PDF).
"This latest report reveals a deeply troubling trend and should serve as a wake-up call for all of us," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "The bottom line is that one of the greatest threats our youngest kids may face during the winter months exist in their homes. It's critical that all families are aware of these risks and take the simple steps now to prevent fires due to cooking, heating or other causes at home. These deaths are preventable, and working together we can educate each other and save lives."
"During the past decade of unprecedented disasters, the needs of kids were too often left behind in disaster planning," said Mark Shriver, Chairman, National Commission on Children and Disasters. "We not only hope this partnership helps better protect children from home fires, but also puts a spotlight on the unique needs of kids when disasters strike. We're grateful that Administrator Fugate has demonstrated such strong leadership and made significant progress for protecting children in a very short time."
In addition, the report found that:
Deaths from fires and burns were the second leading cause of accidental deaths not related to transportation, after drowning;
· Boys are at higher-risk of dying from fires than girls;
· Between 2006 and 2008, smoke alarms were not present in at least 23 percent of residential fires;
· African-American children are at an increased risk of fire deaths; and
· Low-income children are at greatest risk of exposure to home fires.
"Children are one of our most vulnerable populations. Through diverse partnerships we can highlight the dangers which are threatening children throughout the country," said FEMA Acting U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines. "Through reports, such as this one, we can target specific types of hazards to keep children safe from fires."
To help families protect their homes and loved ones, especially young children, from fires, FEMA, the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Commission on Children and Disasters are asking families to take simple steps now to prevent fires in their residences, and partnering with leading organizations across the fire, emergency medical services, public health and emergency management fields to get the message out.
To provide families with important tips about fire safety and lists of additional resources, FEMA is launching online and social media tools, including:
· An updated web page dedicated to children's fire safety, including tips on how to prevent the two leading causes of fire during the winter months: cooking and heating;
· A widget that will link to this website and resources;
· A Facebook tab; and
· A dedicated Twitter hashtag to engage the public in a dialogue about how to protect kids from fires.
Among other things, these updated tools with offer tips for how to prevent the two leading causes of fires during the winter months: heating and cooking.
To view the updated web page and the widget, click here.