Risks for Older Americans: Falls and Fires
March 21, 2022
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently released a report that details the safety hazards older adults face in and around their homes. The report comes on the heels of Consumer Protection Week, which the nation observed earlier this month. According to data from the CPSC, Americans over the age of 65 account for 71% of product-related deaths, despite comprising less than 20% of the population.
Seemingly safe products in the home can actually pose greater risks than you may think. In fact, certain household products are the culprits behind sending millions of older adults to the hospital for nonfatal injuries each year. These products can also inflict deadly injuries on unsuspecting consumers; they cause approximately 3,800 deaths annually. The CPSC’s report aims to educate consumers on the risks that older Americans face. It also provides useful tips on how one can improve basic safety in all areas of their home.
What Specific Hazards Do Older Americans Face?
Falls account for the majority of product-related injuries that older individuals sustain. These falls result in an average of 1,800 deaths and 1.5 million emergency room-treated injuries every year. Most slips, trips, and falls take place on stairs, floors, steps, and from beds. Although falls are the top hazard that older Americans face, they are by no means the only ones on the list. Here are some of the other hazards per the CPSC’s report:
- According to the CPSC, individuals age 65 and above are 3.5 times more likely to die in a fire than the general population. Cooking and smoking materials are primary sources. Older individuals are also disproportionately affected by clothing fires; the CPSC estimates that people in this age group are 14 times as likely to sustain fatal injuries in a clothing fire than individuals that are under 65-years-old. Product-related fires kill approximately 930 older Americans each year
- More than 200 older adults lose their lives in accidents that involve bicycles, e-scooters, and off-highway vehicles
- Approximately 300 individuals age 65 and older lose their lives to drowning annually. The majority of these fatalities occur in swimming pools, bathtubs, and spas
- Carbon monoxide poisoning. Sources like heating devices, generators, and other engine-driven tools can cause carbon monoxide poisoning
- Bed rail entrapment. Usually, portable bed rails can help prevent at-risk or older individuals from falling out of their beds. Despite claiming to be helpful, however, many of these bed rails fail to comply with critical safety standards and requirements. Unsafe or defective bed rails create entrapment and suffocation hazards. Victims can get caught, stuck, wedged, or trapped between the mattress or bed and the bed rail, between bed rail bars, or between a dresser and the bed rail
Safety Tips to Reduce Product-Related Injuries and Deaths
Product manufacturers, suppliers, and sellers have a duty to produce or sell safe products. Far too often, manufacturers disregard their ethical and legal obligations, instead putting profit over the safety of consumers. Luckily, there are steps that individuals can take to mitigate the dangers that certain products create. Here are a few of the CPSC’s useful examples that can help reduce the hazards that older Americans face:
- Never smoke in bed
- Install handrails on both sides of any stairs in your home
- Keep stairs clutter-free and well lit
- Keep floors clear and slip-resistant
- Remove loose carpets, cords, and other items that create tripping hazards. Be sure that all rugs, mats, and other surfaces are non-skid
- Install smoke alarms on every level of the home outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. Install carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of the home
- Check to make sure that the portable adult bed rails in your home have not been recalled. If they have, do not use them. If you are purchasing new portable adult bed rails, confirm that they meet the ASTM voluntary standard ASTM F3186 – 17, Standard Specification for Adult Portable Bed Rails and Related Products
- Have a professional inspect the furnace before turning it on for both carbon monoxide and fire hazards
- Never operate a portable generator inside the home. Generators should exclusively be used outside and at least 20 feet away from the home and never near windows or vents
- Do not use engine-powered tools inside the home, even if it is for a short period of time or to conduct repairs
- Watch for traffic and wear appropriate safety gear when operating four-wheelers, e-scooters, and bicycles
If a product caused an injury because of an unsafe design, a manufacturing defect, or the failure to provide proper warnings and instructions, the victim may have a products liability claim. Products liability lawsuits are highly technical and complex, so it is best to have a skilled litigator on your side. To learn more about filing a claim to recover damages for your product-related injury, contact a representative at our firm online now.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947
If you sustained a product-related injury and you would like to pursue a full recovery of damages, contact our Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.