The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reminded consumers last month that when they changed their clocks on November 5th they should have changed the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Since Daylight Saving Time ended on Sunday, November 6th, I hope everybody has followed the recommendations and changed batteries. If not, all should do so. CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in her statement:
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms save lives by alerting you to a fire or CO buildup. They can’t do their job if the batteries aren’t working. Protect your family by replacing smoke and CO alarm batteries at least once each year.
In addition to changing batteries every year, CPSC recommends consumers test their alarms monthly. Smoke alarms should be placed on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside each bedroom. According to the CPSC, about two-thirds of fire deaths occur in homes with either no smoke alarms or smoke alarms that don’t work. Fire departments responded to more than 386,000 residential fires nationwide that resulted in nearly 2,400 deaths, more than 12,500 injuries, and $6.92 billion in property losses annually, on average, from 2006 through 2008.
In addition to changing batteries in smoke alarms, the CPSC urges consumers to stay in the kitchen while cooking to help prevent fires. It says that cooking fires accounted for the largest percentage of home fires, an annual average of nearly 150,000 or 38.7%, from 2006 through 2008. The CPSC says CO alarms should be installed on each level of the home and outside sleeping areas. CO alarms should not be installed in attics or basements unless these areas include a sleeping area. It should be noted that combination smoke and CO alarms are available to consumers.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that consumers cannot see or smell. CPSC says an average of 184 unintentional non-fire CO poisoning deaths associated with consumer products, including portable generators, occurred annually from 2005 through 2007. To protect against CO poisoning, schedule an annual professional inspection of all fuel-burning appliances, including furnaces and chimneys. Home heating systems were associated with 70 deaths, or 38% of CO poisoning deaths, in 2007, the largest percentage of non-fire CO poisoning deaths.
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