When Changing Clocks Back to Standard Time, Check Batteries and Age of Alarms, CPSC Recommends Replacing Older Alarms

November 2, 2007
Release Number: 08-062

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.