Older people’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards home security and the fire evacuation risks they impose.
Older people hold inaccurate and negative views about crime levels. In spite of the drop in the crime rate over the last ten years, older people do not feel safe in their homes. Furthermore, while crime figures show that victims of crime are more likely to be younger people older people believe they are more vulnerable to intruders in their homes.
Older people take a range of measures to create a strong visible defence to potential intrusions (e.g. installing locks and latches on windows, deadlocks on doors, and security screen doors), and are not considering the potential fire evacuation risks these security measures impose. While older people acknowledge they would be slow to evacuate their homes in the event of fire, due to impaired mobility, vision and hearing, they are underestimating the time to evacuate from fire and the serious consequences of fire.
Older people are more concerned about home intrusions than house fires. This could be due to the different levels of exposure older people have had to intrusions and fires in their lifetimes, the extent intruders and fires receive mass media coverage, and older people’s views on the responsiveness of the Police and Fire Service. Older people believe that their fire risk has reduced as they have got older, due to their life style, daily activities and built environment. Older people believe the responsive action they have taken by installing smoke alarms to alert them to a house fire will mitigate the delay security measures impose.
Litmus collected data and information from focus groups and an online survey of older people, key informant interviews and a literature review. The Fire Service will use the research findings to determine how to support older people to be fire safe while maintaining their security needs.