Evaluation of Fire-Safety Programs that use 10-Year Smoke Alarms
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began funding a Smoke Alarm Installation and Fire Safety Education (SAIFE) program in 1998. This program involves the installation of lithium-powered “10-year” smoke alarms in homes at high risk for fires and injuries. This study aimed to (1) determine among original SAIFE homes if the lithium-powered alarms were still present and functional 8–10 years after installation and (2) understand factors related to smoke alarm presence and functionality. Data on a total of 384 homes and 601 smoke alarms in five states were collected and analyzed. Only one-third of alarms were still functional; 37% of installed alarms were missing; and 30% of alarms were present, but not functioning. Alarms were less likely to be functioning if they were installed in the kitchen and if homes had a different resident at follow-up. Of the 351 alarms that were present and had a battery at the time of the evaluation, only 21% contained lithium-powered batteries. Of these, 78% were still functioning. Programs that install lithium-powered alarms should use units that have sealed-in batteries and “hush” buttons. Additionally, education should be given on smoke alarm maintenance that includes a message that batteries in these alarms should not be replaced. Lithium-powered smoke alarms should last up to 10 years if maintained properly.