Survey Finds Annoying Chirp Distracts from Safety; Families at Risk

Nov 19, 2012

Mebane, NC, US

Mebane, N.C., Nov. 19, 2012 – A smoke alarm’s low battery chirp is the number one home fire safety complaint among American homeowners who participated in a recent survey conducted by Kelton on behalf of Kidde, the leading manufacturer of residential fire safety products. In fact, 61 percent of respondents have left their alarm without a working battery. Kidde’s new Worry-Free line of smoke alarms with a 10-year sealed-in lithium battery aims to solve common consumer complaints and pressing fire industry concerns. Kidde is a business of UTC Climate, Controls, & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX)
According to the survey results, homeowners’ primary frustration is timing: almost half of those who have heard a low battery chirp said that it sounded in the middle of the night. Yet, homeowners don’t automatically replace the battery. After hearing a low battery chirp, 33 percent of homeowners might wait a day or more to replace it, according to the survey. Another seven percent say they’d be more likely to disconnect the battery than insert a new one.
Failing to react quickly and replace batteries could have tragic results. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) cites missing or disconnected batteries as the main reason smoke alarms fail to operate in residential fires. Two-thirds of all home fire deaths occur in homes with either no smoke alarm or no working alarm. Recently, the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) issued a recommendation for smoke alarms to be powered by 10-year, sealed-in batteries. NASFM’s support of a long-life battery follows similar recommendations from NFPA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Overall, smoke alarms have been cited as a great success story in this country’s efforts to reduce fire death rates, but persistent problems have been identified along the way that continue to hamper our ability to reduce home fire deaths,” said J. William Degnan, state fire marshal, New Hampshire and president, NASFM . “Consumers with battery-operated smoke alarms should use 10-year batteries in tamper-resistant units to help ensure that they will have that early warning if it is needed. A sealed-in, 10-year battery takes the burden off consumers to remember to change smoke alarm batteries, and it will save lives.”

Kidde’s Worry-Free smoke alarms offer a decade of protection without ever having to replace a battery. They are the only UL-listed alarms to contain a photoelectric smoke sensor that is programmed to reduce nuisance alarms, the second most common complaint of homeowners.  The Kelton survey found one quarter of homeowners report nuisance alarms sounding at least once a month when cooking in their home. Kidde’s Worry-Free Kitchen Alarm includes smart-sensing technology to minimize, if not eliminate, cooking-related nuisance alarms. Each Worry-Free Kitchen Alarm is designed with location-specific features, such as super-bright LEDs in the Hallway Alarm and an added voice warning in the Bedroom Alarm to help wake those who may sleep through the traditional beep. NFPA recommends installing smoke alarms on each floor and inside and outside of sleeping areas. However, survey results show less than a quarter of homeowners comply with this recommendation, and three out of four homeowners don’t know where to place alarms.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that homeowners are frustrated with low battery chirps and nuisance alarms,” said Chris Rovenstine, vice president, sales and marketing, Kidde. “In addition to technology advances that eliminate the low-battery chirp, the Worry-Free smoke alarms give consumers peace-of-mind by offering features to address location-specific safety needs. Homeowners now can feel confident that they have the right alarm for the right location.”

Kidde’s Worry-Free smoke alarms are available at The Home Depot. With no need to replace batteries, consumers will save about $40 in battery costs over the life of an alarm. After ten years, the alarms will sound a warning to indicate it is time for replacement. Fire experts recommend replacing all smoke alarms every 10 years.

The online survey was conducted by Kelton between July – August 2012 among 1,018 homeowners with battery-powered smoke alarms and homes older than 10 years. For more information, visit www.worryfreealarm.com.

Kidde Media Contact
Heather Caldwell

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