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JAMA 100 Years Ago
March 6, 2002


Author Affiliations

JenniferReiling, Assistant Editor

JAMA. 2002;287(9):1086. doi:10.1001/jama.287.9.1086-JJY20003-2-1

The British Home Secretary has published the statistics of child mortality from fire as given by 200 coroners in England and Wales for the years 1899 and 1900. From these it appears that there have been 1684 inquests of children thus sacrificed, and in 1425 of these the evidence showed that an unprotected fireplace was the cause. The use of open grates is almost universal in Great Britain and this appears to be one of the prices they pay for it. The associations with it are generally considered the most cheerful, and an open fire figures largely in the description of English home life in literature, but such a holocaust as the above figures indicate reminds one of the Druidical sacrifices of early Britain and is anything but cheerful to contemplate. Undoubtedly the conservatism that is characteristic of our transatlantic relatives will keep it up, to some extent, even after this revelation. Taken altogether, with its good and bad qualities, the American stove has its advantages in safety as well as efficiency over the open grate.