One in Four U.S. Homes Needs Updated Safety Equipment; Families at Risk Due to Aging Smoke Alarms

Homeowners unaware of the need to replace alarms every 10 years

Jun 01, 2012, 18:10 ET from Kidde

MEBANE, N.C., June 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- More than a quarter of U.S. homes built prior to 2002 - approximately 17 million - may require updated fire safety equipment, according to a new survey conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Kidde, the leading manufacturer of residential fire safety products. The survey, launched in conjunction with Home Safety Month in June, found that 20 percent of respondents had never replaced a smoke alarm, and another six percent hadn't replaced alarms in the last decade. Kidde is a part of United Technology Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).


Aging smoke alarms may not operate efficiently and often cause nuisance alarms. A Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center study found that by the time a smoke alarm is 10 years old (the age which the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends replacement) it has a 30 percent chance of not alarming due to age-related factors, such as dust accumulation, insects and airborne contaminants.

"The survey revealed that many people believe smoke alarms should be replaced more often than recommended, however, sales data shows consumers aren't actually doing that," said Chris Rovenstine, vice president, sales and marketing, Kidde. "This disconnect demonstrates a clear need to educate homeowners. What a tragedy it would be to inadvertently risk the lives and well being of a family by failing to ensure alarms are functioning properly due to aging factors."

Additional survey findings include:

  • Most families are under protected. 67 percent of homeowners had four or fewer smoke alarms in their home, and 12 percent of those respondents only had one alarm. The average U.S. single-family home should have at least five alarms.
  • The majority of Americans take for granted the constant protection that working smoke alarms provide. Only 17 percent of respondents named smoke alarms as a home appliance that operates 24 hours/day, seven days/week.
  • People are more concerned about their electronics than home fire safety. 52 percent are more likely to upgrade or replace a home entertainment-related product (television, game console) than they are to replace their smoke alarms.
  • When asked which appliance they would replace if they knew it wasn't functioning properly, very few Americans stated a smoke alarm. 23 percent of respondents said they would replace their home furnace, heater or air conditioning system if they knew it wouldn't work tomorrow, while less than five percent said they would replace their smoke alarm.

The NFPA reports almost two-thirds of residential fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms or with non-working alarms and recommends installing smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

"As we approach Home Safety Month in June, there is an urgent need to educate families about fire safety," explained Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. "Fire and burns remain a leading cause of unintentional injury and death for children, particularly those under the age of five. Replacing older smoke alarms is a simple way for parents to help protect their families. If you don't know how old your alarms are – even if you have just moved into a home – take precaution and replace them."

When replacing alarms, consider a model containing a long-life sealed lithium battery which offers maintenance-free protection for 10 years and never needs its battery replaced. A combination smoke/CO alarm offers protection from fire and carbon monoxide in one unit. Fire safety products are available at home improvement centers, such as The Home Depot, nationwide.

Kidde and Safe Kids Worldwide have teamed up to hold safety events at select Home Depot stores across the country. The events will allow parents and consumers to learn about alarm replacement as well as other home safety tips. For a list of locations and events, visit

The survey was deployed in April 2012, and recipients were interviewed online. Of those surveyed, 70 percent are married or living with a partner, and 44 percent have children ages 17 or under living in the household.

About Kidde
As the world's largest manufacturer of fire safety products, Kidde's mission is to provide solutions that protect people and property from the effects of fire and its related hazards. For more than 90 years industry leaders, the military, airlines and firefighters have relied on Kidde to deliver superior fire detection and suppression. Consumers will find that same advanced fire safety technology in Kidde's residential and commercial smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers and other life safety products.

Based in Mebane, N.C., Kidde is part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp., a leading provider to the aerospace and building systems industries worldwide. For more information, visit

About Safe Kids Worldwide
Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations dedicated to providing parents and caregivers proven and practical resources to protect kids from unintentional injuries, the number one cause of death to children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost a million children die of an injury each year, and every one of these tragedies is preventable. Through innovative research, education and advocacy, Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 600 coalitions and chapters in the U.S. and in 22 countries to reduce traffic injuries, falls, burns, poisonings, drownings and more. Since 1987, Safe Kids has helped reduce the U.S. childhood death rate from unintentional injury by 53 percent. Join our effort at