According to officials of the Suffolk County Police Department, Alice Woods, a 93-year-old resident of East Northport, Long Island, died in a fire that broke out in her residence in May 2014. At 9:25 p.m., 911 dispatchers received a call about the fire at 55 Grover Lane. Two minutes later, East Northport Fire Department First Assistant Chief Daniel Heffernan arrived at the scene. He was soon joined by Chief Joseph Ervin, also of the East Northport Fire Department. The two men then entered the home, which was full of heavy smoke, and located the elderly woman by the bedroom door on the second floor. Woods, who lived alone, was pronounced dead at the scene. Arson investigators believe the fire started in the bedroom and the cause of the blaze is still being investigated.
A recent study posits that elderly people ages 85 and over are four times more likely to die in a fire than younger people. In some cases, elderly people lack the appropriate sense, such as hearing or smell, to detect a fire. In other cases, elderly people may lack the mobility to escape from a fire on their own. The leading cause of house fires among the elderly is smoking, and most fires start in the bedroom. Cooking was also a leading cause of residential fires involving the elderly, as is faulty heating equipment and space heater placed too closely to flammable materials. Elderly people can prevent deadly house fires by installing smoke detectors. If an elderly person is hard of hearing, he or she can buy a special smoke detector that flashes bright lights or vibrates the bed. In addition, elderly people should never leave the stove unattended, and they should hire professionals to inspect electrical wires and heating systems. Finally elderly people who smoke should only smoke outside.
Data assembled by the National Fire Protection Association shows that there were 1,375,000 fires in the United States in 2012. The report indicated that these fires resulted in 2,855 deaths and 16,500 injuries. The fires caused $12.4 billion in property damage. Of these fires, 480,500 were structural fires that resulted in 2,470 deaths, 14,700 injuries and $9.8 billion in property damage. Overall, a fire department responded to a fire every 23 seconds. In addition, a fire department responded to a structural fire every 66 seconds; home structure fires were reported every 85 seconds. Every 32 minutes, a person suffers an injury due to a fire. A person is killed in a fire approximately every three hours in the United States.
While fires can be deadly and result in serious personal injuries, including severe life-threatening burns, people can take several steps to prevent house fires. First, homeowners should ensure that they have working smoke detectors throughout their homes. They should test these devices every time the clocks are moved forward or back. Next, homeowners should hire a professional electrician to inspect their homes for any dangerous or faulty wiring. Finally, homeowners should have their heating systems inspected annually.
Woman, 93, dies in E. Northport fire, police say, NY Newsday, Candice Ruud, May 9, 2014