Aging In Place in Texas: Elderly at Risk In House Fires

According to the Texas Department of Insurance there are roughly 80,000 reported fires in Texas annually. One every seven minutes. 65% (or 52,000) of those happen in residential settings. As devastating as these house fires can be, they take a tremendous toll on elderly individuals aging in place in Texas.

Is Your Loved One At Risk?

Those 65-years-old or older make up 32% of all house fire fatalities nationwide. Those aging in place in  Texas represent 25% of fire fatalities.

Until now, it has been assumed that disproportionate figure exists because older individuals live in more dangerous conditions—older homes, older appliances, fewer firefighting devices etc.. However, a new study has, for the first time, correlated the ability to survive a house fire with the age of the victims.

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) examined records from a five year period. They discovered that elderly individuals were able to walk away from home fires with survivable injuries just 13% of the time. That percentage jumped to roughly 50% for people between the ages of 20-years and 49-years old.

But why? David Butry, chief of the Applied Economics Office in NIST’s Engineering Laboratory, stated in the journal Injury Prevention: “if fire risk was the critical factor in determining the number of deaths and injuries, then we should have seen no differences in the rates for the elderly and adults 20 to 49. But we did find differences between the age groups, so another factor had to be involved.”

That factor is frailty.

Aging and Its Effect on Survivability

Seniors aging in place in Texas don’t like to give up their freedom. They don’t like to admit their own infirmity—especially to loved ones. However, age-induced frailty can dramatically decrease their ability to escape a home fire unharmed.

The single most important factor influencing survivability is the ability to quickly escape a dangerous situation.