Release date: January 12, 1987
Release number: 87-003

Release Details

Residential fires kill approximately 5,000 people every year in the U.S. with most deaths occurring in fires at night while families are asleep according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

"Properly installed and maintained, the home smoke detector is considered to be one of the best and least expensive means of providing an early warning when a fire starts" asserted CPSC Chairman Terrence Scanlon.

He suggested that smoke detectors be tested monthly to make sure they are working properly. Fresh batteries should last about a year. Worn out batteries should be replaced promptly.

If you are bothered by "nuisance" alarms the Commission urges Consumers not to disconnect their smoke detectors. Smoke from the kitchen, fire place or space heater may trip the detector alarm, but CPSC advises "keep your smoke detector operational otherwise it won't do its job if a fire starts."

The Commission points out that there is no doubt that smoke detectors do save lives, prevent injuries and minimize property damage by enabling residents to detect fires early.

The risk of dying from fires in homes where detectors are not installed and maintained is twice as high as in homes that have functioning ones.

Finally, the Commission urges that at least one smoke detector be placed on every floor of the home. The most important location is in the bedroom area away from air vents or high air flow. Consumers are also advised to rehearse an escape plan so that if the smoke detector sounds everyone will know what to do.

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