Do Family Therapists ask about Fire Safety?

Posted on December 26, 2009. Filed under: Family Therapy, Fire Safety, Housing Quality, Public Health | Tags: , , , , , |

In my previous post I wondered how many family therapists ask questions about the quality of their clients’ housing.  One particular topic in the area of housing quality is fire safety.  This is an important topic to ask families around this time of year.  Home fires increase during the holiday season and due to the financial difficulties families might have this year, public health officials are concerned of an increased risk of home fires.  It goes without saying that home fires are devastating and traumatic for those who experience it, even if everyone escapes safely.  But home fires can be deadly for a number of populations.  According to the Fire website:
  • Children younger than 5 have a higher risk of fire injury and death than older children.
  • Adults 65 and older are twice as likely as any other age group to die in a home fire. The death rate for those 85 and older is five times the national average.
  • African Americans are twice as likely to die in a fire than the general population. For American Indians, the risk of fire death is 30% higher than the general population.
  • Income level is inversely related to fire death risk, with the highest risk among the poorest population groups.
  • Death rates in rural communities are more than twice the rates in large cities and more than three times higher than rates in large towns and small cities.
An important point to remember is that house fires are preventable.  Family therapists have a unique opportunity to help prevent house fires by simply asking some questions.  Here are some questions you can ask ALL of your clients:
  • Do you have any smoke alarms in the house? For those who can’t afford them, check you local firehouse for programs that install free smoke alarms.
  • When was the last time you tested your smoke alarms?
  • If there was a fire in the house, does everyone know what to do? Ask about evacuation plans.  Help your families create an escape plan and ask them to practice it for homework.  Click here for escape plan information.
  • Do you  know where they can get reliable information on how to keep your house safe from fires? Here are some great consumer friendly websites:
Asking these simple questions and sharing information is all that is needed to help your clients prevent a house fire.  If you need further information, please check out the CDC’s website.  Let me know if you have additional questions that are important and please leave a comment.  Take care.

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