Risk Factors for Fires and Burns in Homebound, Urban Elderly

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This study examines the prevalence of risk factors for fires and burns in homebound urban elderly. A home safety assessment was performed on 83 patients enrolled in a physician home visiting program. Information was collected on the presence and functioning of smoke alarms, the presence of fire extinguishers and the maximum temperature of hot tap water. Functional smoke alarms were not present in 37% of households, 82% of households had no access to a fire extinguisher, 46% of households had hot tap water temperature greater than the recommended 120°F. Multiple risk factors for burns and fires exist in the homes of elderly homebound patients that are well known to the medical community. Further attention to burn and fire prevention should be incorporated into the medical and geriatrics curriculum.

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