Smoke Detectors Save Lives
Cartoon image of man pointing to a  smoke detector

The United States Consumer Protection Division reports that an estimated 2,850 people die and 15,900 people are injured annually because of fires in residences. These fires also result in property losses of about $3.8 billion annually.

For the well being of you and everyone in your house, you are encouraged to:

  • install smoke alarms on every level of your home and in every bedroom,
  • perform monthly tests and replace batteries annually
  • develop and practice a fire escape plan and
  • keep matches, lighters and other ignition sources away from children.

Although more than 90 percent of homes have smoke alarms, millions have alarms that do not work. It is recommended that you test each smoke alarm every month to make sure it is working properly. Missing or dead batteries are the main causes for non-working smoke alarms. Be sure to replace the battery in the smoke alarm as soon as it begins to chirp, indicating a low battery. You may wish to consider using smoke alarms that come with 10-year batteries. These alarms with long-life batteries like all smoke alarms should be tested monthly.

In addition, it is recommended that every home have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm near every sleeping area. Remember, you need to regularly test and replace batteries in CO alarms, too.

Keep in mind that children, older people and persons with disabilities may not be able to hear and respond to standard smoke alarms. Alarms with strobe lights, extra loud alarms and even vibrating alarms may be needed to wake children, alert older people or signal persons with disabilities.

Rest assured, smoke alarms do save lives: Between 1980 and 1999, residential fire-related deaths declined substantially. In 1980, approximately 4,560 people died; in recent years, that number has dropped to 2,850 annually.

The following recommendations are made to help you prevent fires, deaths, and injuries:

  • Again, install and maintain smoke alarms.
  • Maintain and properly use gas and electrical appliances.
  • Never leave food cooking on top of the stove unattended; turn off the burner if you have to leave.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children.
  • Develop and practice a fire escape plan.