IBC Urges Canadians To Change Batteries In Home Safety Devices

‘Spring forward’ means safety first

TORONTO, April 4, 2003 – Most Canadians (except those in Saskatchewan) will lose one hour of sleep this weekend as Daylight Saving Time takes effect at 2:00 a.m., Sunday, April 6, 2003.

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is urging people to put safety first by checking the safety devices in their homes. “It takes few minutes to replace the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors,” says Mary Lou O’Reilly, IBC’s Vice President of Public Affairs and Marketing.

“It’s sad to know that some people run the risk of losing so much, simply because they haven’t invested a few dollars and a couple of minutes to replace old batteries.”

An estimated 20 per cent of all smoke and CO detectors are reported to have dead batteries or have been disabled by the removal of batteries. In addition, there are a number of smoke detectors currently installed that have lost about half of their effectiveness. After 10 years in use, the devices should be replaced.

“Many fire prevention brochures clearly state that the longer it takes for an alarm to sound, the less time there is to escape a burning house,” says Ms. O’Reilly. “Too often we neglect these life-saving devices, probably because they tend to blend into the background. With a dead or missing battery, or even an outdated device, people may have a false sense of security.”

Each year in Canada, fire loss from insured dwellings and possessions amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars. Many of these losses may have been prevented by simple safety checks. Linking a safety checklist to spring-forward/fall-back clock changes twice a year allows Canadians to get into the habit of taking time to protect themselves. Examples include making sure flashlights and fire extinguishers are working, and that everyone in the household is familiar with fire escape routes are two simple exercises that could save lives.

“Homes with fuel-burning appliances – such as gas or oil-fired furnaces and gas stoves – should be equipped with carbon monoxide (CO) detectors,” says Ms. O’Reilly. “The long, cold winters and widespread initiatives to insulate homes make CO detectors more necessary than ever.”

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association of the private property and casualty insurance industry. It represents some 200 companies that provide more than 90 per cent of the non-government home, car and business insurance in Canada. For details on how to reduce the threat of home fires, visit IBC’s web site at www.ibc.ca.