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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.

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The authors would like to thank Mary Borges from the Washington Department of Health, Robert McCool from the Kentucky Department of Health, Pam Archer from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Steve Davidson from the Georgia Department of Health, and Lenny Recupero from the Virginia Department of Health, and to all the local fire departments for their assistance provided during this evaluation.


The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Correspondence to Mark Jackson.

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Jackson, M., Wilson, J., Akoto, J. et al. Evaluation of Fire-Safety Programs that use 10-Year Smoke Alarms. J Community Health 35, 543–548 (2010).

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