Consumers’ Corner # 9

25% to 30% of home smoke
detectors aren’t working


One of the easiest and best ways to protect your family against fire is to have smoke detectors in your home.

Fortunately, 90% of homes in the US. now have at least one smoke alarm.

The bad news is many of them – 25 to 30% – are not functioning properly.

The chief causes:

  • Malfunctioning alarms (they should be replaced every 1o years)
  • Alarms with dead batteries
  • Alarms where batteries have been removed

Why are smoke alarms so critical?

Most fatal fires occur when victims are asleep. Poisonous gases produced by fire can make you disoriented and drowsy. So instead of being awakened, you may fall into a deeper sleep.

In addition, smoke and deadly gases spread farther and faster than heat, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That’s why most fire victims die from inhaling smoke and toxic gases, not from burns.

A smoke alarm gives you and your family members precious seconds to get out before you are overcome.

Some disturbing statistics from the
National Fire Protection Association:

  • “Compared to their share of the population, African Americans were roughly twice as likely to killed or injured in a home fire in 2007-2011 as the overall population. The difference was even greater for children and older adults.
  • “The home fire death rate for African American children under 15 (14.6 deaths per million population) was four times the rate of 3.5 for white children the same age.
  • “African American adults 65 and older had a home fire death rate of 56.3 deaths per million, three times the 17.7 rate of white older adults.”

Is your smoke detector working?

 It’s important to test your smoke detector frequently. Just push the button monthly to be sure it is working.

Even better, replace your smoke detector batteries now, and again when we switch back to standard time on November 5, 2017.

That’s an easy way to remember to keep your smoke detectors in working order, protecting your family 24 hours a day.

Another suggestion
: Make sure you have an escape plan for your family.

For tips, go to:

One critical thing to remember:

Make sure you designate an outside gathering spot – like a tree, light pole or mailbox – a safe distance from the house where everyone should meet.

That helps eliminate tragedies like one that occurred in February 2016.

When he did not see his father outside, a 12-year old Norristown boy ran back into a burning house to find his father, who was recovering from hip-replacement surgery. He didn’t know his father had jumped to safety from a second-floor roof.

An assigned gathering place that everyone knows about could help eliminate a horrible tragedy like this.

Notable Numbers

  • 78% of 45-to 65-year-old Americans surveyed last January say they will have to cut back on spending after they retire
  • 22% have less than $100,000 in retirement savings or investments
  •  27% have no retirement savings or investments

Source: Ipsos/USA TODAY


Philly Fun Facts

The east-west streets on William Penn’s famous 1683 plan of Philadelphia were named for trees and plants that grew ‘spontaneously” in the area.

From north to south, those street names in Penn’s original 2-square-mile city between the Schuylkill and Delaware River were:


Sassafras (now Race)

Mulberry (now Arch)







Cedar (now South).

Penn’s two major streets, High Street (now Market) and Broad Street, were 100 feet wide, far larger than any London thoroughfares at the time.



“House fire” flickr photo by Ada Be shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Jim Murphy is a direct marketing copywriter who has run his own consulting business since 2004. For nine years, he wrote and edited “Choices,” an award-winning credit union magazine with a circulation of 80,000. He also is a certified member of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides.

Any comments made are Jim’s opinion, and not necessarily those of the Old Pine Community Center.





Our awesome programs are only possible with your generous help!