Release date: October 29, 1999
Release number: 00-011

Release Details

Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday, October 31, so most of the country will gain an hour when we turn our clocks back. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) suggests consumers spend part of this extra time testing to ensure that their smoke detectors work properly.

Fire is the second leading cause of unintentional death in the home. Each year, more than 3,700 people die in residential fires, and there are more than 400,000 residential fires serious enough to be reported to fire departments.

About 90 percent of U.S. households have smoke detectors installed. However, a CPSC survey found that the smoke detectors in 20 percent of those households -- about 16 million -- were not working, mostly because the battery was dead or missing.

"Smoke detectors can save lives, but they won't work if they are not maintained," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "They should be tested monthly, and the batteries should be replaced at least once a year or when they make a 'chirping' sound."

Long-life smoke detectors with 10-year batteries have been available to consumers since 1995. These long-life detectors also should be tested monthly.

CPSC recommends consumers place a smoke detector that meets the requirements of Underwriters Laboratories' (UL) standard outside their bedrooms and on each level of multi- story homes. CPSC has worked to strengthen smoke detector performance and installation requirements.

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