According to the United States Fire Administration, at least 1,100 Americans ages 65 and older die as a result of residential fires.

In comparison to the rest of the population:

  • 65-74 years of age are twice as likely as the average American
  • 75-84 years of age are four times as likely
  • 85 and older are five times as likely

The leading cause of fire related deaths in the elderly population are related to careless smoking. Smoking is the second leading cause of injuries within this group. Improper use of heating devices ranks number two as a cause of fire related deaths and is the third leading cause of injury. Cooking related fires rank third as a cause of death and first when it comes to fire related injuries.

In an effort to curtail these needless tragedies, the United States Fire Administration has set forth the following recommendations:

Smoking Safety

  • Never Smoke in bed
  • Put your cigarette or cigar out at the first sign of feeling drowsy while watching television or reading
  • Use deep ash trays and put your cigarettes all the way out
  • Don’t walk away from lit cigarettes and other smoking materials

Home Heating

  • Keep fire in the fireplace by making sure you have a screen large enough to catch flying sparks and rolling logs
  • Space heaters need space. Keep flammable materials at least three feet away from heaters.
  • When buying a space heater, look for a control feature that automatically shuts off the power if the heater fails
  • Do not use extension cords, unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer, to power a space heater
  • Ovens are not heaters and should not be used in an attempt to heat a home
  • Ensure a properly working CO alarm

Cooking Safety

  • Never leave a stove while cooking unattended. A serious fire can start in just seconds
  • Always wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when you cook. Keep towels, pot holders and curtains away from flames
  • Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house
  • Make sure pot handles are turned away from heating sources and away from walking areas

Each of us can help reduce fire related injuries and deaths in the elderly by sharing this information with friends and relatives. In addition, we need to make sure that we check on elderly persons during extreme weather condition i.e. heat and cold.

Information for this page was obtained from the United States Fire Administration. For more information related to this topic, please visit

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