Release date: February 14, 2019
Release number: 19-066

Release Details

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is launching a landmark survey of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm usage in consumers’ homes across the United States.  The survey will be conducted in 46 cities across 23 states.

The study will look at the number of smoke alarms in homes. A major CPSC study conducted 25 years ago showed that 27 percent of U.S. households did not have a working smoke alarm.

The study will also include a first-of-its-kind survey to determine the prevalence of CO alarms in American homes.

“The CPSC is pleased to be spearheading this lifesaving effort that will give us a snapshot of consumer use, functionality and perception of smoke and CO alarms,” said CPSC Acting Chairman, Ann Marie Buerkle. “We encourage all who have the opportunity to participate in the study to do so. You are helping save lives,” she added.

The study is a major cooperative initiative sponsored by CPSC, the US Fire Administration (USFA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).  It is anticipated that all stakeholders will benefit from the information gathered during the survey and that it will be incorporated into codes, standards and safety messaging related to fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

CPSC will send two-member survey teams to visit homes, interview the head of the household about alarm safety and test smoke and CO alarms to ensure they are in working order.

Survey teams will include a representative conducting the study on behalf of the CPSC and a representative from each city’s local fire department. Free batteries, and smoke and CO alarms will be provided to any homes that do not have alarms or that have non-working alarms.

Homeowners without smoke or CO alarms will be asked to participate in the survey by phone. All participants will receive gift cards as an incentive for completing the study.

The cities and metro areas selected to participate in CPSC’s National Smoke and CO Detector Survey can be found here (pdf).

Members of the public who have been contacted about taking part in this important survey are urged to participate whether they have a smoke or CO alarm or not.  Consumers can learn more about the survey here.

The survey’s results are expected to be published at the end of 2020.

Fast facts about carbon monoxide- and fire-related deaths and injuries:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 400 Americans die every year from CO poisoning, including poisoning from portable generators and home heating systems.
  • According to CPSC’s injury surveillance research, in 2015, there were approximately 370,900 residential fires in the United States that resulted in 2,230 deaths and 10,800 injuries.
  • Research conducted by the NFPA from 2009 to 2013, estimates that three-out-of-five fire deaths occurred in a home without working smoke alarms.
  • CPSC recommends that smoke alarms and CO alarms be placed on every level of the home and outside sleeping areas. In addition, smoke alarms should be placed inside bedrooms. This greatly reduces fire and CO deaths and injuries.
  • Learn more about smoke and CO alarm safety by visiting CPSC’s Safety Education Centers
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