Two-thirds of home fire deaths in homes with faulty, or no, alarms

Change your clock, change your battery: Get smoke alarms working

Posted:  Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 9:00pm

Daylight saving ends Sunday, Nov. 5, and as you turning those clocks back, make a point to change batteries in smoke, as well as carbon monoxide detectors.

Peak hours for home fires fatalities are between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., while most people are asleep. Most at risk for injury and death during a fire are children under 15 and seniors 75 or older. Early detection devices provide those the extra few seconds to safely evacuate.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends smoke alarms in homes be replaced every 10 years and that homes have both ionization and photo-electric smoke alarms to alert to all types of home fires. Changing the batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors annually, testing the alarms, creating evacuation plans and putting those plans into practice are effective ways to reduce injury or death in the event of fire. Having a properly functioning early detection system and evacuation plan will help reduce death from fire. 

Think about this:

  • 96 percent of American homes have at least one smoke alarm, but 20 percent of all homes with smoke alarms fail to have at least one smoke alarm that works, mostly because the alarms are missing batteries, or the batteries have gone dead.
  • In the U.S., almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fire in homes with inoperable smoke alarms or no smoke alarms. Thirty-eight percent of fatal fire injuries occur in homes with no smoke alarms, while 24 percent occur in homes in which at least one smoke alarm was present but failed to operate.
  • Nuisance activations were the leading cause of disabled smoke alarms. Cooking fumes and steam can cause smoke alarms to sound. Nuisance alarms can be prevented by moving the smoke alarm farther from kitchens and bathrooms. A chirping smoke alarm means the battery is dying.
  • Households with non-working smoke alarms now outnumber those with no smoke alarms.
  • It is recommended that there be at least one smoke alarm and one carbon monoxide alarm on each level of the home, including the basement and outside the bedroom or sleeping areas.