Alarming stats on smoke detectors
By Canadian FirefighterFeatures Blogs Editor’s blog
March 6, 2008
Last week, a day after roasting a chicken in my self-cleaning oven (which, admittedly, needs to clean itself more often), I broiled a steak for my perpetually starving 14-year-old. Needless to say, the greasy residue in the oven from the chicken didn’t react well to the broiler, and the smoke detector started screaming.
As is the practice in our house, I hollered downstairs – where the older offspring was hammering away on his guitar and the younger one was engrossed in a computer game – to let them know that all was well and there was no need to evacuate (yes, I know, it sounds like this happens often – it does.)
I turned on the fan over the oven and grabbed a tea towel to fan the smoke detector. This worked for about 10 seconds, at which point the alarm resumed its shrieking while the New York strip baked under the broiler.
Finally, the perpetually starving older offspring came upstairs to fan the smoke detector with the tea towel in an effort to provide some temporary relief to our eardrums.
All of which is to say that as is also the practice in this house, we never remove the batteries or disconnect the smoke detectors (blog readers will know that there are 11 of them in our house) when the alarm goes off.
Remarkably, however, more than half – HALF! – of Canadians do. And then – wait for it – they forget to put the batteries back in.
Yesterday, as a young mother and her three young children who died in a weekend house fire in Hamilton, Ont., were mourned, an Ipsos Reid poll conducted for the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs and Kidde Canada revealed that a troubling 55 per cent of Canadians have removed batteries or tampered with smoke detectors. What’s worse, 51 per cent forget to put the batteries back in.
Interestingly, in light of several recent fire deaths, we posted a new poll on the home page of this website yesterday asking readers whether public education surrounding smoke detectors needs to be revamped or revisited. The first vote came just before 4 p.m. yesterday and the most recent vote (as of this writing) was at 12:33 p.m. today. As unscientific as our poll is, the fact that more than 82 per cent of those who voted (sorry, I don’t have the number of votes) said yes while about 18 per cent said no is a significant endorsement for change.
All this comes as the CAFC reminds Canadians to change the batteries in their smoke detectors this weekend. This time, however, there’s another message from the chiefs: surprisingly, almost 40 per cent of those surveyed in the Ipsos Reid poll didn’t realize that smoke detectors themselves don’t last forever and should be replaced every 10 years.
Clearly, those numbers indicate a need for change to the fire-service public education programs.
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