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Smoke detector survey results disturbing

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While most Illinois homes have smoke alarms installed, many homeowners aren't following basic fire safety steps in using them, according to a new survey.

The survey, conducted by Qualtrics for Kidde Fire Safety, the survey found many families have too few alarms installed, don't have them in bedrooms and have outdated models. Kidde Fire Safety, a leading manufacturer of residential fire safety products, is a part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

According to the survey, 15 percent of respondents in Illinois don't have at least one smoke alarm on each floor and 62 percent do not have alarms in their bedrooms. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports half of all home fire deaths occur between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. – when most people are asleep. Installing alarms in bedrooms as well as in hallways could improve a family's escape time by up to 15 minutes. NFPA's current model code requires smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.

"On average, you have less than three minutes from the sound of the first smoke alarm to escape a fire. That's why having alarms throughout the home is so important – the sooner you can hear an alarm, the more time your family has to respond," said Chris Rovenstine, vice president of marketing and sales for Kidde.

The survey also found that at least 22 percent of respondents either have smoke alarms that are at least 10 years old or don't know how old their smoke alarms are, meaning they should be replaced.

"Having working smoke alarms throughout the home can help save lives by alerting families to potential fire risks," Rovenstine said. "We urge families in Illinois to be proactive about their safety and equip their homes with smoke alarms with 10-year sealed batteries."

Other key findings of the survey revealed:

  • Four out of five homeowners do not test their smoke alarms once a month, which is the industry recommendation.
  • Nearly a third of homeowners admit to disabling a smoke alarm due to a low-battery chirp; more than half of those people left the alarm disabled for longer than a day.
  • 36 percent of homeowners are more likely to replace or upgrade their television than their smoke alarms.  
  • Nearly all – 99 percent – of those surveyed didn't think of a smoke alarm when naming devices in their home that are always on.

"Unfortunately, results like this survey are part of a nationwide trend," said Rovenstine. "A quarter of homes in the U.S. need updated smoke alarms, and homeowners rank the low-battery chirp as the No. 1 home fire safety annoyance. One solution is to install alarms with 10-year sealed batteries. They provide ongoing hassle-free protection for a decade without needing to replace a battery or hearing a low battery chirp."

For more information, visit or follow @KiddeSafety on Twitter.