Fire is a leading cause of unintentional injuries in children and youth in Canada. Although evidence supports low socio-economic status (SES) as a significant predictor of unintentional injuries in general, far less attention has been paid specifically to the SES of residential fire related injuries among Canadian children and youth.
This study aimed to determine the role of SES (low education, median income and average number of persons per dwelling (ANPD) in residential fire related injuries and deaths among children and youth in Canada.
We used a cross-sectional study design on data from the National Fire Information Database, which includes 10 years (2005–2015) of microdata information on fire incidents and losses reported by provincial/territorial Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners Offices across Canada. Census 2011 data at the CMA level, from Statistics Canada, provided the SES variables. We used a Poisson regression model to examine the relationship between SES and the rate of residential fire casualties, defined as deaths and injuries per fire incident, in children and youth (ages 0–16). We adjusted for province in the model.
Per region, the risk of children and youth being injured or killed in a fire decreased by 95% for every additional person in the house (p<0.0001), and increased by 3% for every $1000 increase in the annual family median income (p<0.001). Low education was not significantly associated with the rate of fire casualties among children and youth (p=0.16).
This is one of the first studies addressing the role of SES in residential fire related injuries and deaths among children and youth across Canada. ANPD and median income were strongly associated with rate of fire casualties. This outcome has high clinical relevance and provides evidence to support informed interventions targeting children from small and poor families regarding residential fire prevention.
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