Smoke alarms play a vital role in reducing deaths and injuries from fire and have contributed to the almost 50% decrease in fire deaths since the late 1970s. It is estimated that 96% of U.S homes have at least one smoke alarm. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths in 2005-2009 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms save lives and protect against injury and loss due to fire.
A 2010 U.S. telephone survey found that 96% of the households surveyed had at least one smoke alarm.
An estimated 890 lives could be saved each year if all homes had working smoke alarms.
38% of reported home fire deaths in 2005-2009 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
The death rate per 100 reported fires was twice as high in homes without a working smoke alarm as it was in home fires with this protection.
In one out of every five homes equipped with at least one smoke alarm installed, not a single one was working.
Why do smoke alarms fail? Most often because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries. Nuisance activations were the leading cause of disabled smoke alarms.
Source: NFPA's "Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires" report by Marty Ahrens, September 2011.