Clothing Fire Safety for Senior Citizens December 8, 2020
According to a recent press release from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Americans over the age of 65-years-old are the most at-risk age group for dying in a fire. Despite only accounting for 16% of the general population, senior citizens account for more than three-quarters of all clothing fire-related fatalities. The majority of deadly and injurious clothing-related fires are completely preventable. To learn more, read some of the CPSC’s safety tips below.
More than 1,100 individuals age 65 and above require emergency medical treatment every year for their clothing fire-related injuries. Some of the main causes behind these clothing fires are cooking accidents, material-ignited fires (e.g. from burning trash, debris, and grass outdoors) and space heater-related fires. While all clothing can be flammable, the CPSC’s Acting Chairman notes, loose clothing more heavily favored by senior citizens is particularly quick to ignite. Data from the U.S. Fire Administration confirms that nearly 50% of older people who die in fires are intimately involved with the source of the fire, such as clothing that has ignited into flames.
Important Fire Safety Tips
The clothing item most frequently ignited in fires resulting in serious injury or death is pants, though shirts, robes and nightgowns also top the list of dangerous culprits. At least 60 older individuals die in clothing-related fires annually. To limit preventable injuries and deaths as well as to promote fire safety among senior citizens, the CPSC has released a new public service announcement, or PSA, entitled “Sound the Alarm: Pants do Catch Fire.” Here are just a few of the agency’s helpful fire safety tips:
- Always cook with care. When you are cooking, be sure to keep any dangling or loose clothing, like shirt sleeves or other clothing components, away from the stovetop
- Remember that ALL clothing burns! Loose clothing can catch fire especially easily and quickly, but keep all clothes away from fire and ignition sources
- Space heaters can ignite items that are too close to them, like rugs, papers, and clothing. Place them a minimum of three feet away from flammable items
- If you burn trash or debris outdoors, make sure to keep a safe distance from the fire. If you are using lighter fluid to ignite the fire, be sure that none of it gets on your clothing. To read some of the CDC’s guidelines for burning trash outdoors during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you may visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/openburning.html
- If you are a smoker, remember that smoking materials like cigarettes or cigars can ignite clothing. Do not smoke while you are drowsy and always properly extinguish smoking materials before leaving the room or going to bed
- Be sure to have working smoke alarms on every floor of your home both inside and outside of all sleeping areas. Also keep a working fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergencies
If your clothing does catch fire, remember the age-old adage: stop, drop, and roll. Keep your face covered and roll until the fire is completely extinguished. If you are not able to drop to the ground and roll, the CPSC recommends using a blanket to put the fire out. Call 9-1-1 for help and run cool water on your burns until first responders are on the scene.
Filing a Legal Claim
Although clothing is inherently flammable, there may still be legal recourse available to you if you sustained injuries in a clothing-related fire. Sometimes manufacturers, distributors, and sellers circumvent federal regulations and endanger consumers. If a fire victim’s clothing caught fire as a result of it being highly or unusually flammable, a lawsuit can be filed against the parties who were involved in the chain of distribution, the person who started the fire, or the company that sold the product responsible for starting it. Determining liability is a complicated legal process, as injured victims must prove:
- The clothing was unsafe and unreasonably dangerous due to it being highly or unusually flammable
- The defective clothing caused the victim’s injuries
- The wrongdoer sold the clothing or the fabric from which the clothing was made
- The unsafe condition in the clothing or fabric existed at the time of sale by the manufacturer, distributor, or seller
- The wrongdoer, whether it was the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the highly flammable clothing, was engaged in the business of selling the clothing or fabric at the time of the event
If you were injured in a clothing-related fire and would like to learn more about filing a claim, someone at our firm can help. Contact a representative online now.
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