February 28, 2002
CPSC Warns That Smoke Alarms in About
16 Million Homes Do Not Work
Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday, October 29, so most of the country
will gain an hour when we turn our clocks back. The U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC) suggests consumers spend part of this extra time
testing to ensure that their smoke alarms work properly.
Fire is the second leading cause of unintentional death in the home. Each
year, nearly 3,200 people die in residential fires, and there are more than
390,000 residential fires serious enough to be reported to fire departments.
About 90 percent of U.S. households have smoke alarms installed. However, a
CPSC survey found that the smoke alarms in 20 percent of those households --
about 16 million -- were not working, mostly because the battery was dead or
"Smoke alarms can save lives, but they won't work if they are not
maintained," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "They should be tested monthly,
and the batteries should be replaced at least once a year or when they make
a 'chirping' sound."
Long-life smoke alarms with 10-year batteries have been available to
consumers since 1995. These long-life alarms also should be tested monthly.
CPSC recommends consumers place a smoke alarm that meets the requirements of
Underwriters Laboratories' (UL) standard on each level of multi-story homes
outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms. CPSC has worked to strengthen
smoke alarm performance and installation requirements.