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Smoke Alarms


CPSC Urges Consumers to Change Smoke Alarm Batteries When Changing Clocks for Daylight Saving Time

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Office of Information and Public Affairs

April 3, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges consumers to change their smoke alarm batteries when changing their clock for Daylight Saving Time this Sunday, April 6. CPSC estimates that about 16 million homes in the U.S. have smoke alarms that do not work. In most cases, the batteries are dead or missing.

In a recent year, nearly 2,700 people died and more than 15,000 were injured because of fires that started in their homes. These fires resulted in property losses of more than $3.5 billion. Children are particularly vulnerable. Each year about 700 children under the age of 15 die of fire-related causes and about 400 of these deaths are to children under the age of 5 years. Most deaths occur from fires that start at night while families are asleep. Four times as many victims die from inhaling smoke and toxic gases as from burns.

"The Commission works to prevent fires by developing and enforcing safety standards for products. For example, we have federal standards for child-resistant cigarette lighters, for wearing apparel, for children's sleepwear, and for carpets and rugs," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "We are working on standards to prevent fires for products such as water heaters and electrical wiring. But, if a fire starts, you need a working smoke alarm to warn you and save your life."

A CPSC goal to reduce the death rate from fires is one of the strategic areas in which the agency is focussing its efforts. "Through safety standards for products, we hope to prevent fires from starting," said Stratton. "We continually work to strengthen smoke alarm performance and installation requirements. Additionally, we are currently studying the audibility of smoke alarms with young children and older people to help improve reliability and effectiveness."

About 90 percent of U.S. households have smoke alarms installed. However, a CPSC survey estimated that 20 percent of those households, about 16 million, did not have any working alarms. CPSC recommends consumers test each smoke alarm every month to make sure it is working properly. Change batteries at least once a year. 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 smoke alarms that meet the requirements of a professional testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), on each level of multi-story homes outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.


Send the link for this page to a friend! The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or visit CPSC's web site at Consumers can obtain this release and recall information at CPSC's web site at

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