Jobless ‘more likely to die in accidents’

Socially vulnerable people are more likely to die in an accident, according to a new report from the Swedish Rescue Services Agency (Räddningsverket). The findings could lead to a shift in the way preventative work is carried out.

Between 1992 and 2002 a thousand people died in fires in Sweden. Two thirds of those were living alone, a quarter were unemployed and only one in ten had remained in education until they were 19 or older. The group also had a significantly lower average income than the population as a whole.

“It is as we suspected, but the figures are clearer than thought,” said Jan Schyllander, researcher at the agency, to Svenska Dagbladet.

The same patterns were refelected in drowning incidents, where social factors such as drug or alcohol abuse often play a role.

Much of the Rescue Services Agency’s preventative work has focused on educational materials for schools and encouraging people to use smoke alarms. But the new study reveals problems with that approach.

“Many of these people are not helped by a smoke alarm since they won’t hear it, and they’re not going to buy a fire extinguisher,” said Jan Schyllander.

“Instead I believe that there should be stronger ties between the rescue services and councils’ social units where they cooperate to identify these people.”