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Six-month follow-up of lithium-battery smoke alarms and self-reported reasons for disabling
  1. Elise Omaki,
  2. Wendy C Shields,
  3. Shannon Frattaroli,
  4. Eileen McDonald,
  5. Vanya Jones,
  6. Andrea Gielen
  1. Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Elise Omaki, Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N. Broadway, Room 527A, Baltimore MD 21205, USA; eperry{at}


Although smoke alarms with lithium batteries are often marketed as ‘10-year alarms’, on average, these alarms do not remain functional for 10 years. This paper describes self-reported reasons for non-working lithium-battery alarms 6–9 months following a smoke alarm installation programme. Data presented are for a cohort of 754 homes that participated in the installation programme and subsequently completed follow-up. A total of 1487 smoke alarms were installed. At follow-up, 126 alarms (8%) were missing and 37 (3%) were observed to be non-working. Of the non-working alarms, residents reported that they had been disabled 57% of the time. Reasons for disabling the alarms most often included that the battery was chirping (38%) or that it sounded while someone was cooking (24%). Smoke alarm installation programmes using lithium-battery alarms should consider highlighting education about smoke alarm maintenance, the hush feature and resources to replace alarms that malfunction soon after installation.

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  • Funding Funding for this research was provided to the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1R18CE001339): Dissemination of Research in Child Safety; and NIH/National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (1R01 H059216): Community Partnerships for Child Safety.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Johns Hopkins School of Public Health IRB.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.