Is your new home safe and secure?

Published 7:00 pm Monday, June 4, 2012

(ARA) – Summer brings a full court press for moving season – with June being the busiest month for Americans to relocate.

While aesthetics often take precedence when settling into a “new-to-you” home, it’s important for homeowners and renters alike to complete a safety check of their abode to reduce the risk of unintentional injuries. One of the greatest hazards in a home that usually is the furthest from the mind is fire. But, it’s one of the easiest to address.

“As we approach Home Safety Month in June, there is an urgent need to educate families about fire safety,” says 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 5. Replacing older smoke alarms is a simple way for parents to help protect their families.”

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More than two-thirds of residential fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms or with non-working alarms according to the National Fire Protection Association. One in four families with homes built prior to 2002 is at risk due to aging (10 or more years old) smoke alarms, according to a recent survey from Kidde.

Fire experts recommend replacing alarms every 10 years as older smoke alarms may not operate efficiently and often cause nuisance alarms. By the time a smoke alarm is 10 years old, it has a 30 percent chance of not alarming due to age-related factors such as accumulated dust, insects and airborne contaminants, according to a Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center study. If you don’t know how old your smoke alarms are, or if you know they were installed more than 10 years ago, it’s replacement time.

Additionally, the survey found that most American families are under-protected when it comes to fire safety. Sixty-seven percent of respondents have four or fewer smoke alarms in their homes, but the average U.S. single-family home should have at least five alarms.

When replacing your home’s alarms every 10 years, look for smoke alarms with a 10-year sealed lithium battery that will keep your alarms powered for a decade. The alarm will never need its battery replaced during its useful life. Or, select a combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, which offers a voice warning and uses the latest technology to help minimize nuisance alarms that often occur when cooking.

As you prioritize your move-in to-do list, remember that an ounce of prevention today could save a life tomorrow.