Since 1992, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has reminded consumers to check smoke alarms and change batteries when they change their clocks, but in that time, many alarms have lost their effectiveness. This year, CPSC wants to remind consumers to replace smoke alarms every ten years and replace carbon monoxide (CO) alarms every five years.
In a national telephone survey of households conducted by the CPSC, 97 percent of homes had at least one smoke alarm. That’s good news, but without fresh batteries, alarms will not work when needed. And the sensors in alarms will degrade and lose effectiveness over time because of environmental contamination and age.
According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports, there were more than 1.6 million fires reported in the United States in 2005. These fires caused about 3,700 civilian deaths and 18,000 injuries. Additionally, from 2002-2004, CPSC estimated a yearly average of 166 deaths from unintentional, non-fire related CO exposure.
“Millions of Americans are without adequate protection from fire and CO because the alarm’s battery is dead or the alarm is too old,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. "Alarms don’t last forever, and old ones need to be replaced.”
Consumers need to remain vigilant against carbon monoxide poisoning and fires. CPSC recommends three simple tips to protect your life, your loved ones, and your home:
1. Make sure your home is protected with both smoke and CO alarms. Combination smoke/CO alarms are available in the marketplace.
2. Test alarms monthly to make sure they are working.
3. Once a year, change batteries when you change your clocks.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $900 billion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals - contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to www.SaferProducts.gov or call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain news release and recall information at www.cpsc.gov, on Twitter @OnSafety or by subscribing to CPSC's free e-mail newsletters.