The 2008 report of the New York City Child Fatality Review Team (CFRT) looks retrospectively at injury deaths for the years 2001 through 2006 for New York City children aged 1 to 12 years. The single largest contributor to child injury deaths overall and to unintentional deaths are motor vehicle accidents, especially those involving child pedestrians. Fire and burn-related deaths were the second leading contributor to unintentional injury deaths and the leading contributor to fatal child injuries in the home.
Compared to national figures, New York City children are half of the national child injury death rate. Those more likely to die from injuries than other children are boys, children aged one to three, and black children. Fire-related deaths for black children were nearly twice that of whites and more than three times that of Hispanic children. Brooklyn had the highest rage of child injury deaths and Manhattan had the lowest rate. 68% of child injury deaths are unintentional. 85% of accidental fire fatalities were the result of negligent human behavior.
75 percent of the fires that killed children in New York City result from adult behavior such as leaving candles unattended, overloading outlets, or not extinguishing cigarettes or children playing with matches or lighters.
The CFRT made an in-depth review of fire and scald burn-related deaths. A total of 66 child fire-related deaths occurred in NYC resulting from 43 residential fires, and four scald burn-related child deaths. Most child fire-related deaths occurred as a result of smoke inhalation, rather than directly from fire-related burns. Non-fatal scald burn injuries were very common, but only four scald-related deaths occurred. One quarter of all child fire deaths occurred as a direct result of fireplay, where a child was known to have been playing with matches or a lighter, the leading ignition source for fires resulting in child deaths.
Shockingly, and what should serve as a wake-up call, 89% of children who died in a fire were under supervision (an adult was in the household). Type of housing played a big part in child fire deaths.
The proportion of fatal fires (16%) that occurred in public housing was disproportionate to the distribution of New York City public housing (2%) overall. Only one in four residences were identified as having a working smoke detector. Smoke detectors were either not present or non-working in 44% of homes. The report also contained recommendations on a range of approaches to keep our City’s children safe.
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