When It Comes to Fire Safety, Don't Overlook Outdated Smoke Alarms
More than a quarter of U.S. homes built prior to 2002—approximately 17 million—may require updated fire safety equipment, according to a new survey conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Kidde, a leading manufacturer of residential fire safety products. The survey, launched in conjunction with Home Safety Month in June, found that 20 percent of respondents had never replaced a smoke alarm, and another six percent hadn't replaced alarms in the last decade. Kidde is a part of United Technology Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp.
Aging smoke alarms may not operate efficiently and often cause nuisance alarms. A Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center study found that by the time a smoke alarm is 10 years old (the age which the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends replacement), it has a 30 percent chance of not alarming due to age-related factors, such as dust accumulation, insects and airborne contaminants.
"The survey revealed that many people believe smoke alarms should be replaced more often than recommended, however, sales data shows consumers aren't actually doing that," said Chris Rovenstine, vice president, sales and marketing, Kidde. "This disconnect demonstrates a clear need to educate homeowners. What a tragedy it would be to inadvertently risk the lives and well being of a family by failing to ensure alarms are functioning properly due to aging factors."
Additional survey findings include:
-Most families are under protected. Sixty-seven percent of homeowners had four or fewer smoke alarms in their home, and 12 percent of those respondents only had one alarm. The average U.S. single-family home should have at least five alarms.
-The majority of Americans take for granted the constant protection that working smoke alarms provide. Only 17 percent of respondents named smoke alarms as a home appliance that operates 24 hours/day, seven days/week.
-People are more concerned about their electronics than home fire safety. Fifty-two percent are more likely to upgrade or replace a home entertainment-related product (television, game console) than they are to replace their smoke alarms.
-When asked which appliance they would replace if they knew it wasn't functioning properly, very few Americans stated a smoke alarm. Twenty-three percent of respondents said they would replace their home furnace, heater or air conditioning system if they knew it wouldn't work tomorrow, while less than five percent said they would replace their smoke alarm.
The NFPA reports almost two-thirds of residential fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms or with non-working alarms and recommends installing smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
"As we focus on Home Safety Month in June, there is an urgent need to educate families about fire safety," explained Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. "Fire and burns remain a leading cause of unintentional injury and death for children, particularly those under the age of five. Replacing older smoke alarms is a simple way for parents to help protect their families. If you don't know how old your alarms are—even if you have just moved into a home—take precaution and replace them."
When replacing alarms, consider a model containing a long-life sealed lithium battery which offers maintenance-free protection for 10 years and never needs its battery replaced. A combination smoke/CO alarm offers protection from fire and carbon monoxide in one unit.