Family Safety

Safety Tips

  • Never remove a good battery or otherwise disable the detectors.
  • Know what to do after a detector sounds.
  • Plan a home escape route in the event of a fire.

Smoke Alarms

Since the single-station, battery-powered smoke alarm became available to consumers in the 1970s, the home fire death rate has been reduced by one-half. Most states have laws requiring them in residential dwellings.

Working smoke alarms are essential in every household. It is necessary to practice home fire drills to be certain everyone is familiar with the smoke alarm signal and to determine if there are any obstacles to a quick and safe evacuation (including the inability for some to awaken to the smoke alarm signal).

Facts & Figures

  • A 2004 U.S. telephone survey found that 96% of the households surveyed had at least one smoke alarm.
  • Roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires in the small percentage of homes with no smoke alarms.
  • Homes with smoke alarms (whether or not they are operational) typically have a death rate that is 40% to 50% less than the rate for homes without alarms.
  • In one-quarter of the reported fires in homes equipped with smoke alarms, the devices did not work. Households with non-working smoke alarms now outnumber those with no smoke alarms.
  • Why do smoke alarms fail? Most often because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries.

Carbon Monoxide Risks At HomeCarbon monoxide warning poster

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning,the "silent killer," is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas.

In the bloodstream, CO prevents oxygen from combining with hemoglobin and restricts oxygen delivery to vital organs. CO poisoning can cause a number of symptoms, depending on the length and severity of the exposure.

  • Mild exposure can result in a slight headache, nausea, vomiting and fatigue, such as flu-like symptoms.
  • Medium exposure can produce headaches, drowsiness, confusion and fast heart rate. 
  • Extreme exposure can produce unconsciousness, convulsions, heart and lung fatigue, brain damage and eventually death.

Possible sources of CO In the home:

  • Gas heating and cooking equipment.
  • Fireplaces.
  • Gas water heaters.
  • Vehicles running in attached garages.

The best defenses against CO poisoning:

  • Safe use of vehicles, particularly in attached garages.
  • Proper installation, use and maintenance of household gas cooking and heating equipment. 
  • Annual Appliance check-ups by trained technicians to ensure they are working properly. 
  • Installation of CO detectors.

What to do if your CO Detector goes off

CO detectors are very sensitive and may occasionally give a false indication of a problem. It is important to evaluate the conditions of the occupants when an alarm occurs. 

  • If any symptoms of CO poisoning are present, the building should be immediately and completely evacuated and the Fire Department should be summoned by calling 911.
  • If no indications of CO poisoning are present, the detector may be reset. If the detector activates again, call the Fire Department via 911.