Calif. Smoke Alarm Law Requires Sealed, Long-Life Battery

State fire marshal will not approve a smoke alarm that is solely battery-powered unless it contains a non-removable, 10-year battery.

SACRAMENTO – In California, a new law mandates any battery-powered smoke alarm or combination smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm approved for sale by the state fire marshal must be powered by a sealed, 10-year battery.

The law, which went into effect July 1, also requires that by Jan. 1, 2015, all new smoke or combination alarms display the manufacture date, provide a place on the unit to mark the date of installation, and incorporate a “hush” feature to silence nuisance alarms like those caused by burnt toast or shower steam.

Retailers have until July 1, 2015, to stock only sealed-in, long-life battery smoke alarms.

A recent survey conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Kidde found 66% of California homes have battery-powered smoke alarms. Nearly one-third of those surveyed who have lived in their homes for at least a decade have smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old. The state fire marshal and national fire organizations like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend replacing smoke alarms every 10 years, yet 41% of respondents didn’t think they needed to do so.

“A sealed tamper-proof alarm makes sense, saves lives and saves money over the life of the alarm – and now it’s the law,” says Katie Smith, director of Safe Kids California, a nonprofit coalition dedicated to eliminating preventable childhood injuries. “This is great news for California homeowners and especially the children in our state who all too often are killed or injured in home fires.”

The NFPA reports two-thirds of all home fires occur in homes without a smoke alarm or with one that isn’t working, mainly due to dead or missing batteries. A long-life battery sealed inside an alarm makes it virtually tamper-proof and eliminates the risk associated with disabling the alarm.

“Long-life alarms provide continuous protection for a decade and are recommended by national fire experts, including the NFPA and the National Association of State Fire Marshals,” says Chris Rovenstine, vice president, sales and marketing, Kidde. “We applaud the state of California for requiring 10-year lithium batteries for battery-powered smoke alarms because we know it will help save lives.”

Ten-year sealed-battery smoke alarms are available at home improvement retailers and cost between $25 and $50. With no need to replace batteries, consumers save about $40 in battery costs over the life of one alarm, according to Kidde. After 10 years, the alarms will sound a warning to indicate it is time for replacement.

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