Stay vigilant about smoke alarms and protect your family this winter. This coming Sunday – November 7th – Daylight Saving Time ends. As you set your clocks back, we encourage you to also test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
It is critical that your smoke alarms work as we approach winter, when we spend more time indoors, cook for the holidays and there is a greater risk for home fires and fire injuries.
Half of All Massachusetts Fire Deaths Occur in Homes Without Working Smoke Alarms
In 2020, half of all Massachusetts fire deaths occurred in homes without working smoke alarms, the state fire marshal’s office announced earlier this year. This was based on preliminary data.
End-of-year data showed there were 29,641 fires across Massachusetts in 2020, a 16 percent increase over 2019. The number of civilian deaths rose from 39 in preliminary data to 44, up from 42 in 2019. There were 245 civilian injuries and 594 fire service injuries in 2020. Smoking was the leading cause of residential fire deaths in Massachusetts, followed by electrical and cooking fires.
The traditional reminder has been to replace your home’s smoke alarm batteries twice a year – at the start and end of Daylight Saving Time. You should still do so if your smoke alarms operate on regular batteries.
But in 2016, the state of Massachusetts updated the fire safety requirements, steering more homeowners toward newer smoke alarms designed to last 10 years without a battery change. So not everyone needs to change their smoke alarm batteries.
Testing is still essential. If a fire breaks out, you may have seconds to escape and your smoke alarm has to work for you, your family, loved ones and roommates. Commit to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly and twice a year when you change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time. This is a simple step – just press the test button.
Read Your Product Manual and Learn the Sounds of Your Smoke Alarm
Read your smoke alarm product manual. Make sure you recognize how the alarm sounds – when it chirps to alert you of failing batteries and in an actual emergency. If you do not know, search for the product information online or call the manufacturer. The Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office also shared safety tips as part of Fire Prevention Week earlier this month. The theme was “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety,” the sound of your smoke alarms.
Involve other family members in this, especially older adults. Those 65 and older are highly vulnerable when fires break out, accounting for more than 40 percent of all fire deaths in Massachusetts during 2020, according to the state fire marshal’s office. Older adults may seem healthy, but they may suffer from a medical condition they haven’t shared or side effects to medication. Another potential barrier is untreated hearing loss.
One in three people between age 65 and 74 suffer from hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Aging. When they get older, nearly half of all adults age 75 and older have difficulty hearing. Step in and help older adults. Offer to take them to their primary care doctor and learn about smoke alarms for those who are deaf or have difficulty hearing.
Check for Smoke Alarm Recalls
Unfortunately, like other products, there are times when smoke alarms are recalled due to defect. In May 2020, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of more than 220,000 Kidde TrueSense Smoke Alarms and Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarms. These alarms were newer models, sold between May 2019 and September 2020.
When you test the batteries at Daylight Saving Time, you can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website for smoke alarm recalls. Take time for this, even if you have registered your smoke alarm with the manufacturer. While you are there, check for product recalls involving unsafe winter heating products, including electric blankets, space heaters, children’s pajamas and other products. This is an easy but important step for safety. If you own any of these products, take the recall seriously. Remove the defective product from your home now so no one reaches for it on a cold night.
One Survey: Many Americans Are Not Testing Smoke Alarm Batteries
While this is a simple step, not everyone is testing smoke alarms. Earlier this year, a Consumer Reports survey found roughly one-third of all Americans could not recall when they last tested their home’s smoke alarm. About 25 percent could not recall replacing their smoke alarm batteries, while more than half could not remember when they had installed the devices. But this doesn’t have to be the case. You can easily test your smoke alarm and pull out the product materials right now.
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At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured in premises liability accidents, construction accidents, structure fires and fires caused by landlord neglect. Our attorneys have represented clients, including college students, tenants and their families after serious injuries and wrongful death in fires.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a fire, learn your legal rights. Contact our attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Please check your smoke alarms when you get home. Kidde has recalled nearly half a million smoke alarms, urging consumers to check devices for yellow caps potentially left on during the manufacturing process. According to the company’s recall notice, the cap would be on one of two sensors inside the smoke detector, compromising the device. Consumers have to do this inspection carefully. You will be looking for the yellow cap through the opening on the side of the device, as shown in the photo. Be careful not to open the smoke alarm or take it apart.
Because Kidde is one of the largest manufacturers, every consumer should check their smoke alarm. If you have a Kidde device, you will need to take it off the wall or ceiling to check the date code on the back. The recalled smoke alarms were dated September 10, 2016 through October 13, 2017. They were sold through January 2018 at Home Depot, Walmart and other retailers. They were manufactured in China, by Fyrnetics Limited, of Hong Kong.
PI9010 (DC/battery powered)
Date codes: Sept. 10, 2016 through Oct. 13, 2017
Date codes: Sept. 10, 2016 through Oct. 13, 2017
Steps for Inspecting Your Smoke Alarm
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recall notice warns consumers not to open the device. Take it off the ceiling or wall, then inspect the alarm through the opening on the side of the device. If you see a yellow cap, you should immediately contact Kidde toll-free at 833-551-7739 for a free replacement. We encourage you to read the recall notice for hours of operation and other information.
Kidde issued the product recall after the yellow cap was found on a smoke alarm which was about to be installed in a consumer’s home. No injuries or incidents reported. Kidde recalled 452,000 smoke alarms sold in the United States and about 40,000 in Canada.
Importance of Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms are fundamental to safety. Massachusetts has strict laws requiring installation in residential and commercial property. Yet 3 out of 5 home fire deaths in the U.S. are caused by smoke alarm failures, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Nearly 40 percent of these homes had no smoke alarms and about 20 percent had non-working smoke alarms.
Do everything you can to protect your family. Commit to replace the batteries when you set the clocks back or ahead for Daylight Saving Time. Regularly test your smoke alarm batteries every month.
Please share this recall with family members and friends. Offer to help anyone who needs it. In addition to the elderly, check in with college students or adult children who are living in apartments. Also check in with any family members who are new homeowners, still getting to know their appliances.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our lawyers specialize in personal injury, medical malpractice and product liability cases. Our lawyers are committed to fighting for justice for those who have been seriously injured or killed by the negligence and wrongdoing of others. If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free consultation, contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or use our contact form.
Many of us are thinking about Halloween today. But Daylight Saving Time also ends this weekend. While setting your clocks back, remember to replace your smoke alarm batteries and test to make sure they work properly.
As we approach winter, we increase use of electrical appliances and the risk for home heating fires rise. In fact, half of all home heating fires happen in December, January and February. The death rate in homes with no working smoke alarms is twice as high as those with alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Often, homes have smoke alarms but the batteries are missing disconnected or dead.
Make as many of these safety checks as you can this weekend:
Smoke alarms. Replace your smoke alarm batteries in every unit of your home and smoke alarms which are 10 years old. Also check if your smoke alarm model has been recalled. Kidde recalled 1.2 million smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in September. You can search for other recalls at www.cpsc.gov.
Carbon monoxide detectors. The state of Massachusetts began requiring carbon monoxide detectors in every residence in 2006 and many home owners have passed the 5-7 year lifespan of their models. Check if yours needs to be replaced. If you have a combination smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detector, check the unit’s specific instructions.
Washing machines and dryers. Clothes dryers are responsible for many home fires, but most can be prevented by regularly checking and cleaning the filters. Clean your models out now.
Cooking. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires. Clear out any clutter in your kitchen now so you have plenty of room to set out your ingredients in advance. Find a cabinet or drawer to store anything you may need so you do not have to leave the room while cooking. Make sure you have a functioning fire extinguisher.
Home heating. Arrange for oil delivery or have your chimney or wood stove professionally cleaned. If you are using a space heater, take a few minutes to read our home heating safety tips. Each year, space heaters cause 80 percent of home heating fire deaths and one third of all home heating fires.
Get ready for the snow. Get your snow hat, gloves, shovel and road salt ready now and set them aside in the same place throughout the winter. When it snows, you want to be able to easily find them so you can clear your front steps and driveway so no one slips and falls in the snow and ice.
Cords. Walk through every room of your home and see what is plugged into the electrical outlets. Look under beds, behind computers, in power supplies and in your children’s rooms. Unplug cords you are not using and put them in a drawer until you need them. Pay extra attention to the USB cords for your tablets and cell phones and replace them if they look old or worn.
Get your car ready. Take a few precautions and reduce the stress of traveling in the snow. Collect and pack away ice scrapers and small shovels as well as an extra hat, pair of gloves and clothing in case you become stuck while traveling. Also pack a couple flashlights, a non-perishable snack, such as a granola bar, and make sure all your vehicle paperwork is easily accessible in the glove compartment.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is calling on the public to check their home smoke alarms, after more than a million units were recalled yesterday.
Kidde recalled 1.2 million smoke alarms in the United States and 112,000 in Canada. No injuries have been reported, but the models have a defect which may prevent them from working after a power outage. This is an important recall because each year, three to five deaths in property fires come in buildings without working smoke alarms, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
The smoke alarms are all residential models:
- Kidde residential smoke alarm model i12010S with manufacture dates between December 18, 2013 and May 13, 2014
- Kidde Combination smoke/CO alarm il2010SCO with manufacture dates between December 30, 2013 and May 13, 2014
- Kidde Combination smoke/CO alarm model KN-COSM-IBA with manufacture date between October 22, 2013 and May 13, 2014
These smoke alarms are all hard-wired into a home’s electric system. The i12010S and il2010SCO models come with 10-year batteries inside while the KN-COSM-IBA uses replaceable AA backup batteries.
These smoke alarms look like most: white, round and are about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Closely inspect the fine print on the front of yours for the word “Kidde.” On the backside, there is a label with the model number and manufacturing dates. “Always on” is also engraved on the front of alarms with sealed 10-year batteries.
These smoke alarms were sold at CED, City Electric Supply, HD Supply, Home Depot, Menards Inc. and other retailers. They were sold online at Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com and shopkidde.com from January 2014 through July 2014 for between $30 and $50.
Smoke Alarm Safety Tips
Daylight Saving Time. We will set our clocks back an hour for Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, November 2. The National Fire Protection Association and other safety officials recommend we also replace the batteries in our smoke alarms, test them to make sure they work and replace any models which are 10 years old.
Monthly Testing. Safety organizations also recommend we test smoke alarm batteries once a month.
Inform Others. Make sure everyone in your home knows what the smoke alarm sounds like and knows where they are located. Here is a resource for more safety and planning information.
Apartment Residents. If you rent an apartment, ask your building management company or property owner to show you the smoke alarms when you sign the lease. Contact them whenever you suspect a problem or have a question.
As Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, we all have a very important chore: changing the batteries in our smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. The good news is we have an extra hour in the day to get that chore done.
Smoke alarms provide necessary warning for us to act in a fire. Each year, more than 2,200 people die in unintentional home fires in the United States. The greater tragedy is nearly two-thirds of these deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or ones which do not work.
Here are a few additional suggestions for Boston and Massachusetts residents:
- You should have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside and outside sleeping areas.
- Purchase fire extinguishers for your kitchen, basement, work areas, and garage. Check them every few months to remind yourself of where they are, and make sure they are properly charged.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years and carbon monoxide detectors every five years.
- Talk to your family, roommates and landlord about your fire evacuation plan.
- Walk through your home and apartment and practice your fire evacuation plan. In an emergency, you and others may have to pass through unfamiliar areas.
- If you are a Boston college student renting an apartment, make sure you and your roommates are following house rules for cooking and that no one is smoking in the living area.
- Report any potential fire hazards to landlords promptly, including blocked access ways and electrical irregularities.
On Sunday, Nov. 6, we turn clocks back an hour as Daylight Saving Time ends. The change from Daylight Saving Time is an important reminder to protect our family and homes by checking and changing the batteries in our smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
Fire and carbon monoxide poisoning are great concerns as the cold weather arrives and residents make their home heating decisions. Each year, more than 150 people in the United States die from accidental non-fire related carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. This poisoning is associated with consumer products, such as furnaces, stoves and water heaters.
Even more people die each year in fires. In 2010, 3,120 people were killed while another 17,720 suffered fire-related injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Four out of five civilian fire deaths occurred in the home. These statistics make your work to prepare your home for the winter especially important.
Smoke Alarms: Massachusetts requires a smoke alarm be installed on every habitable level of a residence as well as the basement floor.
There are two types of smoke alarms, photoelectric and ionization. Effective April 5, 2010, only photoelectric smoke detectors are to be installed within 20 feet of kitchens and bathrooms with showers. These alarms are less sensitive and the goal is to reduce nuisance alarms that cause people to disable devices. Both photoelectric and ionization alarms are required in all other areas.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Since March 31, 2006, residences have been required to have working carbon monoxide alarms on every habitable level of the home or dwelling unit. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that results from incomplete burning of fuels. The first symptoms of poisoning are similar to the flu and include headache, fatigue and dizziness.
Each day, it gets darker outside earlier and we are reminded that Daylight Saving Time is almost here. Next Sunday, Nov. 7, we “fall back” again and set our clocks back an hour.
Daylight Saving Time began during World War I to take advantage of the longer days and save energy costs from increased sunlight. Retailers like it because they believe it increases evening shopping. But today, fire departments across the country use it as a reminder to check the batteries in your home’s smoke alarms.
It’s important to follow this advice. Approximately every three hours a home fire death occurs in the United States. Eighty percent of these occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Many other people sustain serious personal injuries.
Daylight Saving Time is also a good opportunity to test your smoke alarm, although the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends smoke alarms be tested once a month.
In between monthly checks, pay attention for failing batteries. It’s time for a new battery if a smoke alarm begins to chirp. This is the smoke alarm’s low-battery warning.
Also make sure you have an adequate number of smoke alarms to protect your home. The CPSC recommends at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home. Make it a priority to place alarms near bedrooms and inside bedrooms. If you are changing the wiring in your house, wire your smoke detectors together. That way, if one goes, they all go.
Another suggestion is to produce a fire evacuation plan and do a home fire drill. When there is a plan, people panic less and there is a better chance they will escape the flames faster. For assistance with this, visit the National Fire Protection Association’s web page on fire escape planning.
For more information on smoke alarm safety, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website.