N.C. OCME Annual Report 1994
Chapter 7: Non-Motor Vehicle Accidents
There were 1,102 non-motor vehicle accidental deaths investigated by the Medical Examiner System in 1994. Figure 26 shows that fires, falls, and drownings represent a little more than half (51%) of these deaths. Figure 27 exhibits percentages of alcohol use for each type of accident. Alcohol was a factor in many of these deaths.
There were 170 accidental fire deaths in North Carolina in 1994. Nonwhite males had the highest death rate and nonwhites in general had double the death rate compared to whites. Fire death rates by age exhibit a U-shaped pattern in which children under 4 and adults over 65 years of age had the highest rates (Figure 28). The highest frequency of fire deaths was in the winter months.
Table 11: 1994 Medical Examiner Fire Death Rates by Race and Sex (per 100,000 population)
Figure 29 exhibits fire deaths by cause of death. Approximately 84 percent of all fire deaths were in a housefire, and the majority of those deaths were attributed to smoke inhalation.
There were 288 accidental deaths due to falls in 1994. Death rates by age group show an increase with advancing age. Many deaths due to falls occur in elderly individuals who die of complications following a fall that fractures a leg or hip and in whom serious underlying natural disease also play a role. Death due to falls among the elderly are underreported to the Medical Examiner System which is reflected in the higher death rate in the 65+ age group in vital statistics data (Figure 30).
Death rates for falls were highest among white males (Table 12). Figure 31 shows fall deaths by nature of fall.
Table 12: 1994 Medical Examiner Fall Death Rates by Race and Sex (per 100,000 population)
There were 105 accidental drowning deaths in 1994. Nonwhite males had the highest death rate and males
had a death rate four times that of females (Table 13). The age group 15-24 had the highest age-specific death rate (Figure 32). Drowning deaths occurred more frequently in the summer months.
Table 13: 1994 Medical Examiner Drowning Death Rates by Race and Sex (per 100,000 population)
Figure 33 exhibits drowning deaths by premise of injury. The majority of drownings occur in rivers or lakes. Other studies at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner have shown that farm pond drownings are especially prevalent in North Carolina.