CPSC Recommends Fresh Batteries for Smoke Alarms
 and Fire Safety Tips for Every Home

WASHINGTON, D.C. - "When you change your clock for Daylight Saving Time, remember to put fresh batteries in your smoke alarms," said Hal Stratton, Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. "And keep cigarettes, matches, lighters, and candles away from children who might unintentionally start a fire." Chairman Stratton announced a year-long fire safety campaign to warn consumers about fires started by cigarettes, matches, lighters, and candles.

(NOTE FROM NH: Be sure to check to be sure your smoke alarm does not have a 10-year or "lifetime" battery.  If so, don't make any change until the alarm beeps to notify you that the battery is low... or you'll waste money!)

"Everyone needs a smoke alarm with a fresh battery on every level of the house and in every bedroom," Chairman Stratton said. CPSC posted fire safety tips (below) and will distribute fire safety information to urban and rural communities at risk. In addition, Commission field offices will work with state and local officials to promote fire safety and encourage consumers to maintain working smoke alarms in their homes.

Each year, 2,850 people die in residential fires, 15,000 people are injured, and there are more than 353,500 residential fires reported to fire departments. Property losses each year are $3.8 billion. Reducing this fire toll is a priority for CPSC. The Commission has set standards to make lighters child-resistant. CPSC encourages the installation of safety devices to reduce the risk of fires from electrical wiring. CPSC also worked with industry to develop a new voluntary standard including a warning label for candles and other features to address stability, flame height, secondary ignition, and other issues to help prevent candle fires.

"Our mission is to make sure products are as safe as possible," said Chairman Stratton. "Consumers should keep ignition sources away from children, install and maintain smoke alarms, and develop and practice a fire escape plan."

Although fewer than 10 percent of homes have no smoke alarms, millions more do not have working alarms. CPSC recommends consumers test each smoke alarm every month to make sure it is working properly. Smoke alarms with 10-year batteries have been available to consumers since 1995. These alarms with long-life batteries also should be tested monthly. CPSC also recommends that every home should have a carbon monoxide alarm near every sleeping area, and consumers need to regularly test and replace batteries in CO alarms too.

CPSC has worked to strengthen smoke alarm performance and installation requirements and is studying ways to make the alarms more effective in waking children and alerting older people.

Over a 10-year period (1990 through 1999), there was a decline in fire-related deaths. In 1990 there were approximately 3,400 deaths, but in 1999 there were approximately 2,400 deaths. This decline in deaths can be attributed, in part, to CPSC and industry standards for cigarette-resistant mattresses and upholstered furniture, heating and cooking equipment, electrical products, general wearing apparel, children's sleepwear, child-resistant lighters, fireworks, smoke alarms, and residential sprinklers. CPSC has designated fire safety as one of three top priorities for the next five years, with the goal of reducing fire deaths further.

CPSC recommends consumers follow these tips to help prevent fires:

* Install and maintain smoke alarms
* Maintain and properly use gas and electrical appliances
* Keep matches and lighters away from children
* Develop and practice a fire escape plan

Interested in more on fire safety?  Click HERE for CPSC's "Home Fire Safety Checklist".