IBC reminds Canadians to update smoke alarms, CO detectors

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TORONTO, April 2, 2004 – Most Canadians (except those in Saskatchewan) will “spring forward” this weekend, losing one hour’s sleep as we move to Daylight Saving Time at 2:00 a.m. Sunday.

“It only takes a couple of minutes to replace the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors,” says Mary Lou O’Reilly, Vice-President, Public Affairs and Marketing, Insurance Bureau of Canada. “Sadly, an unfortunate few may lose much more, simply because someone has neglected to invest a few dollars and two minutes to replace the dead batteries.

An estimated 20 per cent of all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have dead batteries or have been disabled by batteries being removed. 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.

“A majority of fire prevention brochures clearly state that the longer it takes a unit to sound the alarm, the less time you have to get out of a burning house,” says Ms. O’Reilly. “Too often we neglect these life-saving devices, probably because we see them every day and they begin to blend in with our surroundings. With a dead or missing battery, or even an outdated device, people tend to have a false sense of security.”

Every year, Canadians lose insured dwellings and possessions worth almost $300 million through home fires. Many of the losses could 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. Such things as 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 save lives.

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

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association of the private property and casualty insurance industry. It represents more than 90% of the non-government home, car and business insurance in Canada. To view news releases and information, visit the media section of IBC’s website at www.ibc.ca.