DOI News

For Immediate Release: Contact:
March 3, 2009 Kristin Milam
Johanna Royo
Spring Forward to Wipe Out the Silent Killer
RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner and Safe Kids N.C. Chair Wayne Goodwin reminds North Carolinians the upcoming time change is the best time to make a change that could save lives. "Installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and checking their batteries regularly is an important investment in your family's safety, even families that are watching every dollar," said Commissioner Goodwin.
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States, yet less than a third of all homes have a CO alarms. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), emergency responders receive an average of seven calls of CO poisoning every hour. Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, or methane burn incompletely. Carbon monoxide alarms can cost as little as $15.
And even though, 96 percent of all U.S. residents own at least one smoke alarm, almost half of all homes that reported a fire between 2000 and 2004 did not have a working smoke alarm. That's according to NFPA. They estimate nearly 900 lives would be saved each year if all homes had working smoke alarms.
To keep your family safe, follow these tips:
Smoke Alarms
  • Test smoke alarm batteries once a month, and replace old smoke alarms with the new 10-year long life alarms.

  • One smoke alarm is not enough! Every home should be equipped with alarms on every level - including the basement - and outside each sleeping area.

  • Encourage children to help test the smoke alarm and familiarize them with the sound it makes.

  • Buy only smoke alarms that bear the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Smoke alarms need to be cleaned.

  • Remove cobwebs and dust with a vacuum cleaner attachment. If you are going to be doing work nearby that could send dust or paint into the air, cover the alarm with a temporary shield made of cardboard or plastic.

  • Practice your home escape plan regularly. Establish a meeting place outside the house, like the mailbox, and teach your children to go there when they hear the smoke alarm.
Carbon monoxide alarms
  • Install at least one CO alarm on each level of your home and near sleeping areas.

  • Replace CO alarms every five years.

  • Never use charcoal or gas grills inside and keep away from windows and doors when using outside.

  • Have a licensed professional inspect your heating system and other fuel burning systems yearly.

  • Maintain and follow manufacturer's instructions with all fuel burning appliances in the home.

  • Keep chimneys clear of animal nests, leaves and residue to insure proper venting.

  • Never leave vehicles running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.

  • Never use ovens or stoves to heat your home.
-- NCDOI --