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Public Health Research




Background: When functioning properly, a smoke alarm alerts individuals in the residence that smoke is near the alarm. Smoke alarms serve as a primary prevention mechanism to abate morbidity and mortality related to residential fires. Methods: Using survival analysis, we examined the length of operability of 10-year lithium battery powered smoke alarms installed through the Georgia Public Health/CDC SAIFE program in Moultrie, Georgia. Attempts were made to reach all homes in the city limits. The premise of the study is that geographic clusters (in the case of Moultrie city quadrants) are associated with decreases in the length of time that lithium-battery powered smoke alarms function in homes. Results: The total installed smoke alarms across the city quadrants were 1,970. The mean survival time for installed alarms was 6.34 years. On average, alarms remained in functioning status for 7.6 years for Northeast quadrant, 5.25 years for Southeast quadrant, 5.67 for Northwest Quadrant and 6.85 years for Southwest quadrant. Alarms in two of the quadrants lasted less than 6.34 years and were statistically significantly different with a P < .0001. Conclusions: The knowledge of the length of the functionality of a 10-year lithium battery powered smoke alarms is instrumental for developing guidelines and providing recommendations to fire safety programs and fire departments regarding appropriate follow-up time frames to conduct operability check-up visits and the types of alarms to purchase. The association between geographic clusters with smoke alarm survival time potentially reinforces the public health notion that place matters.


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