Inj Prev 5:217-225 doi:10.1136/ip.5.3.217

House fire injury prevention update. Part II. A review of the effectiveness of preventive interventions

  1. Lynne Warda1,
  2. Milton Tenenbein2,
  3. Michael E K Moffatt1
  1. 1Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, University of Manitoba, IM-PACT: Injuries Manitoba-Prevention of Adolescent and Childhood Trauma, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  2. 2Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, University of Manitoba
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr L Warda, 840 Sherbrook Street, Room CN 104, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3A 1S1, Canada
 (e-mail: lwarda{at}


    Objective—To evaluate and summarize the house fire injury prevention literature.

    Methods—MEDLINE (1983 to March 1997) was searched by keyword: fire, burn, etiology, cause, prevention, epidemiology, and smoke detector/alarm. ERIC (1966 to March 1997) and PSYCLIT (1974 to June 1997) were searched by keyword: as above, and safety, skills, education, and training. Other sources included references of retrieved publications, review articles, and books; Injury Prevention hand search; government documents; and internet sources. Sources relevant to residential fire injury prevention were selected, evaluated, and summarized.

    Results—Forty three publications were selected for review, including seven randomized controlled trials, nine quasiexperiments, two natural experiments, 21 prospective cohort studies, two cross sectional surveys, one case report, and one program evaluation. These studies examined the following types of interventions: school (9), preschool (1), and community based educational programs (5); fire response training programs for children (7), blind adolescents (2), and mentally retarded adults (5) and children (1); office based counseling (4); home inspection programs (3); smoke detector giveaway campaigns (5); and smoke detector legislation (1).

    Conclusions—This review of house fire prevention interventions underscores the importance of program evaluation. There is a need for more rigorous evaluation of educational programs, particularly those targeted at schools. An evidence based, coordinated approach to house fire injury prevention is critical, given current financial constraints and the potential for program overload for communities and schools.

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