Advertisement

Smoke Alarms by Type and Battery Life in Rural Households

A Randomized Controlled Trial

      Background

      Although the use of smoke alarms is widely recommended, little guidance is available on the types of alarms and batteries that function best. This study examined smoke alarm and battery function 12 months after installation in rural residential households.

      Methods

      An RCT, involving the installation of either a photoelectric or ionizing smoke alarm with either a lithium or carbon-zinc battery, was conducted in 643 rural Iowa households in July 2003. The functionality of each installed smoke alarm was tested 12 months later. Generalized estimating equations were used to model the effects of alarm type and battery type on alarm function and false alarms 12 months after installation.

      Results

      Of 643 study homes, 98.8% had at least one functioning alarm, and 81.5% had all alarms functioning 12 months after installation. No difference was observed in alarm function between photoelectric alarms and ionizing alarms 12 months after installation (OR=1.30, 95% CI=0.88, 1.92). However, photoelectric alarms had significantly lower odds of false alarms than ionizing alarms. Alarms with lithium batteries had 91% higher odds of functioning than those with carbon-zinc batteries. The main reasons for nonfunctioning included a missing battery (30.7%); a missing alarm (28%); and a disconnected battery (11.3%).

      Conclusions

      Although lithium batteries and photoelectric alarms are more expensive than their counterparts, the financial investment might be worthwhile in terms of overall performance.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to American Journal of Preventive Medicine
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • CDC
        Web-based injury statistics query and reporting system (WISQARS). [Online]. 2005. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC producer.
      1. Runyan S.W. Casteel C. The state of home safety in America: facts about unintentional injuries in the home. 2nd ed. Home Safety Council, Washington DC2004
        • Karter M.J.
        Fire loss in the U.S. during 2005, abridged report.
        National Fire Protection Association, Fire Analysis and Research Division, Quincy MA2006
        • Hall Jr, J.R.
        Burns, toxic gases, and other hazards associated with fires: deaths and injuries in fire and non-fire situations.
        National Fire Protection Association, Fire Analysis and Research Division, Quincy MA2001
        • Ahrens M.
        The U.S. fire problem overview report: leading causes and other patterns and trends.
        National Fire Protection Association, Quincy MA2001
        • Marshall S.
        • Runyan C.
        • Bangdiwala S.
        • Linzer M.
        • Sacks J.
        • Butts J.
        Fatal residential fires: who dies and who survives?.
        JAMA. 1998; 279: 1633-1637
        • Hall Jr, J.R.
        The U.S. experience with smoke detectors: who has them? How well do they work? When don't they work?.
        NFPA J. 1994; 88: 36-46
        • Runyan C.W.
        • Bangdiwala S.I.
        • Linzer M.A.
        • Sacks J.J.
        • Butts J.
        Risk factors for fatal residential fires.
        New Engl J Med. 1992; 327: 859-863
        • Kuklinski D.M.
        • Berger L.R.
        • Weaver J.R.
        Smoke detector nuisance alarms: a field study in a Native American community.
        NFPA J. 1996; 90: 65-72
        • Consumers Union
        Smoke detectors essential for safety.
        Consum Rep. 1994; 59: 336-339
        • Istre G.R.
        • Mallonee S.
        Smoke alarms and prevention of house-fire-related deaths and injuries.
        West J Med. 2000; 173: 92-93
        • Rowland D.
        • DiGuiseppi C.
        • Roberts I.
        • et al.
        A prevalence of working smoke alarms in a local authority inner city housing: randomized controlled trial.
        Br Med J. 2002; 325: 998-1001
        • DiGuiseppi C.
        • Higgins J.P.
        Interventions for promoting smoke alarm ownership and function.
        Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001; (CD002246)
        • Fazzini T.M.
        • Perkins R.
        • Grossman D.
        Ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms in rural Alaskan homes.
        West J Med. 2000; 173: 89-92
        • DiGuiseppi G.
        • Roberts I.
        • Speirs N.
        Smoke alarm installation and function in inner London council housing.
        Arch Dis Child. 1998; 81: 400-403
        • Thompson C.J.
        • Jones A.R.
        • Davis M.K.
        • Caplan L.S.
        Do smoke alarms still function a year after installation?.
        J Community Health. 2004; 29: 171-181
        • Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Fire Administration
        A profile of rural fire problem in the U.S..
        Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington DC1998
        • Ahrens M.
        The U.S. fire problem overview report: leading causes and other patterns and trends.
        National Fire Protection Association, Quincy MA2003
        • Peek-Asa C.
        • Allareddy V.
        • Yang J.Z.
        • Taylor C.
        • Lundell J.
        • Zwerling C.
        How many is enough?.
        Inj Prev. 2005; 11: 364-368
        • Merchant J.A.
        • Stromquist A.M.
        • Kelly K.M.
        • et al.
        Chronic disease and injury in an agricultural county.
        J Rural Health. 2002; 18: 521-535
        • Zeger S.L.
        • Liang K.Y.
        • Albert P.S.
        Models for longitudinal data: a generalized estimating equation approach.
        Biometrics. 1988; 44: 1049-1060
        • Roberts H.
        • Curtis K.
        • Liabo K.
        • Rowland D.
        • DiGuiseppi C.
        • Roberts I.
        Putting public health evidence into practice: increasing the prevalence of working smoke alarms in disadvantaged inner city housing.
        J Epidemiol Community Health. 2004; 58: 280-285
        • Thompson N.J.
        • Waterman M.B.
        • Sleet D.A.
        Using behavioral science to improve fire escape behaviors in response to a smoke alarm.
        J Burn Care Rehabil. 2004; 25: 179-188