Fire Prevention Month Campaign Sheds Light on Risks of Disabling Smoke Alarms
It’s a potentially fatal (and far too common) scenario…an otherwise functional smoke alarm is rendered ineffective when a homeowner, annoyed by frequent “nuisance” alarms, deliberately deactivates the device. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), while nearly all U.S. households have at least one smoke alarm installed, in a startling one-fifth of these homes, none are working – most often due to missing batteries and intentional deactivation. The consequences can be tragic with almost two-thirds of home fire deaths each year occurring in properties without working smoke alarms*.
In honor of Fire Prevention Month this October, First Alert, the most trusted name in home safety**, is encouraging consumers to “Power Up!” their smoke and CO alarms in a nationwide public education campaign focused on encouraging consumers to test alarms and, if needed, update their homes with newer devices that use advanced technology to combat frequent false alarms and better detect real threats.
This call to action is particularly timely as the holiday season – marked by an increased use of stoves, ovens, fireplaces and other potentially CO-emitting heating sources – quickly approaches.
“We’ve all been there. You’re working hard over a hot stove making a home-cooked meal and suddenly the smoke alarm activates with no real threat,” said Deborah Hanson, director of external affairs for First Alert. “However, frequent false alarms have far-reaching consequences beyond just mere annoyance and can pose serious safety risks to your family.”
Known in the fire industry as “nuisance alarms,” frequent false alarms are typically caused by excessive smoke or steam – and are the number one reason people disable and/or remove batteries from their alarms. Even those who don’t go to the extreme of disabling their devices can be negatively affected by recurring nuisance alarms which, over time, can lead people to become desensitized to the sound and fail to act in an actual emergency.
Proper alarm placement, regular maintenance and alarm replacement are keys to evading the annoyance of nuisance alarms. According to Hanson, if you experience repeated false alarms, the problem could be solved by simply replacing with newer models, such as the First Alert Maximum Protection series of alarms, which feature breakthrough anti-nuisance technology. In case of false alarms, a mute button will temporarily silence alarm activation.
“Smoke alarms have a useful life of 10 years, on average, while CO alarms should be replaced after five to seven years,” noted Hanson. “If you cannot recall when your alarms were installed, it’s best to be safe and replace the units.”
Additionally, the NFPA recommends testing smoke alarm function at least once a month to ensure that both the batteries and the units themselves are working properly. For optimum alarm performance, First Alert recommends replacing batteries at least twice a year.
Throughout the month of October, First Alert will be actively promoting these and other fire safety tips as part of its “Power Up!” Fire Prevention Month campaign. In conjunction with its retailers and fire services partners, the brand will host a series of public fire safety events across the country. Additionally, First Alert will give away more than 325 smoke alarms and four-packs of batteries through its “Power Up!” Facebook sweepstakes. For details or to enter, visit http://www.facebook.com/#!/FirstAlertSafety.
“Each year nearly 3,000 Americans die from home fires* and CO poisoning claims another 450 lives,” added Hanson. “Our goal is to bring these numbers down by continually educating consumers about the dangers of fire and CO and reminding them to ‘Power Up’ their devices in order to better protect themselves, their families and their homes.”
The NFPA recommends that smoke alarms be installed in every bedroom and on every level of a home. First Alert offers a wide selection of alarm options ranging from combination smoke and CO units to smoke alarms with escape lights, along with basic battery-powered products. First Alert smoke and CO alarms are available at national retailers and online. For more information, visit http://www.firstalert.com.
* “Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires,” National Fire Protection Association; http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/pdf/smokealarmsexecsum.pdf