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Survey Finds Annoying Chirp Distracts From Safety; Families At Risk

MEBANE, N.C., Nov. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A smoke alarm's low battery chirp is the number one home fire safety complaint among American homeowners who participated in a recent survey conducted by Kelton on behalf of Kidde, the leading manufacturer of residential fire safety products. In fact, 61 percent of respondents have left their alarm without a working battery. Kidde's new Worry-Free line of smoke alarms with a 10-year sealed-in lithium battery aims to solve common consumer complaints and pressing fire industry concerns. Kidde is a business of UTC Climate, Controls, & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX)

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According to the survey results, homeowners' primary frustration is timing: almost half of those who have heard a low battery chirp said that it sounded in the middle of the night. Yet, homeowners don't automatically replace the battery. After hearing a low battery chirp, 33 percent of homeowners might wait a day or more to replace it, according to the survey. Another seven percent say they'd be more likely to disconnect the battery than insert a new one.

Failing to react quickly and replace batteries could have tragic results. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) cites missing or disconnected batteries as the main reason smoke alarms fail to operate in residential fires. Two-thirds of all home fire deaths occur in homes with either no smoke alarm or no working alarm. Recently, the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) issued a recommendation for smoke alarms to be powered by 10-year, sealed-in batteries. NASFM's support of a long-life battery follows similar recommendations from NFPA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"Overall, smoke alarms have been cited as a great success story in this country's efforts to reduce fire death rates, but persistent problems have been identified along the way that continue to hamper our ability to reduce home fire deaths," said J. William Degnan, state fire marshal, New Hampshire and president, NASFM . "Consumers with battery-operated smoke alarms should use 10-year batteries in tamper-resistant units to help ensure that they will have that early warning if it is needed. A sealed-in, 10-year battery takes the burden off consumers to remember to change smoke alarm batteries, and it will save lives."

Kidde's Worry-Free smoke alarms offer a decade of protection without ever having to replace a battery. They are the only UL-listed alarms to contain a photoelectric smoke sensor that is programmed to reduce nuisance alarms, the second most common complaint of homeowners.  The Kelton survey found one quarter of homeowners report nuisance alarms sounding at least once a month when cooking in their home. Kidde's Worry-Free Kitchen Alarm includes smart-sensing technology to minimize, if not eliminate, cooking-related nuisance alarms.

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