Insurer: disabled smoke alarms common

SSN Staff  - 
Friday, November 1, 2002

HARTFORD, Conn. - Nearly 30 percent of adults said they had disconnected smoke alarms in their house and failed to reconnect the devices right away, according to a national survey sponsored by The Hartford, a property insurer.

About 28 percent of the 953 adults queried in the survey admitted to intentionally disabling or removing batteries from a smoke detector and not immediately restoring it to service at least once in the past five years, while three percent said they did that routinely. The survey queried adults around the country.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, about 650 people or about 17.5 percent of all home fire fatalities die each year in fires at residences without working smoke alarms. Most of those devices were disconnected, dead or missing, the group said.

"People have gotten the message to install smoke alarms - 94 percent of homes have at least one - but seem to be all too willing to disarm them permanently if the alarms are triggered by cooking fumes or chirp due to low batteries," said David Fortin, a fire safety expert with The Hartford. That company released the survey results in preparation for National Fire Prevention Week, which ran from Oct. 6 to Oct. 12.

Disconnecting and not returning the device to service immediately was most common in respondents between the ages of 25-34 but least common in people age 55 and older.