Home Fire Safety Practices and Smoke Detector Program Awareness in an Urban Pediatric Emergency Department Population

Rachel Lynn Wood, Stephen J. Teach, Alexandra Rucker, Ambika Lall, James M. Chamberlain, Leticia Manning Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Risk factors for residential fire death (young age, minority race/ethnicity, and low socioeconomic status) are common among urban pediatric emergency department (ED) patients. Community-based resources are available in our region to provide free smoke detector installation. The objective of our study was to describe awareness of these resources and home fire safety practices in this vulnerable population. METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, a brief survey was administered to a convenience sample of caregivers accompanying patients 19 years of age or younger in an urban pediatric ED in Washington, DC. Survey contents focused on participant knowledge of available community-based resources and risk factors for residential fire injury. RESULTS: Five hundred eleven eligible caregivers were approached, and 401 (78.5%) agreed to participate. Patients accompanying the caregivers were 48% male, 77% African American, and had a mean (SD) age of 6.5 (5.9) years. Of study participants, 256 (63.8%) lived with children younger than 5 years. When asked about available community-based resources for smoke detectors, 240 (59.9%) were unaware of these programs, 319 (79.6%) were interested in participating, and 221 (55.1%) enrolled. Presence of a home smoke detector was reported by 396 respondents (98.7%); however, 346 (86.3%) reported testing these less often than monthly. Two hundred fifty-six 256 (63.8%) lacked a carbon monoxide detector, and 202 (50.4%) had no fire escape plan. Sixty-five (16%) reported indoor smoking, and 92 (22.9%) reported space heater use. CONCLUSIONS: In this urban pediatric ED population, there is limited awareness of community-based resources but high rates of interest in participating once informed. Whereas the self-reported prevalence of home smoke detectors is high in our study population, other fire safety practices are suboptimal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPediatric Emergency Care
StateAccepted/In press - Oct 8 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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