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Am J Prev Med. 2006 Jan;30(1):7-12.

Perceived risk of home fire and escape plans in rural households.

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  • 1Injury Prevention Research Center, Department of Community and Behavioral Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.



Homes in rural areas have a higher fire death rate. Although successful exit from a home fire could greatly reduce fire-related deaths and injuries, little is known about factors associated with behaviors of developing and practicing an escape plan.


Between July 2003 and June 2004, a baseline survey was administered, in person, to 691 rural households. Information collected included a history of previous home fire, perceived risk of home fire, existing smoke alarms and their working status, and home fire safety practices, as well as home and occupant characteristics. The association of residents' perceived risk of home fire and fire escape plans was assessed.


Forty-two percent of rural households reported having a fire escape plan. Of the households with a plan, less than two thirds (56.9%) discussed or practiced the plan. Households with children were more likely to develop and practice a fire escape plan. Households with an elderly or disabled person were less likely to develop or practice the plan. Compared to respondents who perceived low or very low risk of home fire, those who perceived a high or very high risk had 3.5 times greater odds of having a fire escape plan and 5.5 times greater odds of discussion or practicing their plan.


Increasing awareness of the potential risk of home fires may help occupants develop and practice home fire escape plans. In order to reduce fire deaths and injuries, different strategies need to be developed for those households in which the occupants lack the ability to escape.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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