Consistent with its commitment to reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by residential fires and carbon monoxide poisonings, Kidde, part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, is increasing awareness of prevention methods and supporting legislation in local communities to ensure all homes have warning devices.
By assisting the grassroots efforts of coalitions, health and safety advocates, firefighters and survivors, Kidde has helped to educate citizens and lawmakers about the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO). These efforts help prompt legislators from states to Capitol Hill to endorse legislation to protect families in their communities.
Known as the “silent killer,” CO is a colorless and odorless gas that is produced by fossil fuel-burning appliances, heating sources and engines. The leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, carbon monoxide kills about 400 Americans and injures another 20,000 each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). Unlike smoke alarms, which have been mandated by fire codes for 40 years, CO alarms have only recently been required.
To build awareness of the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning and drive change, Kidde partners with local CO poisoning survivors and their families, giving them the opportunity to tell their stories and help prevent future incidents. Local firefighters and other supporters, such as Safe Kids members and health and safety officials play a vital role by testifying at committee hearings, writing letters and sharing their views with the media and community at large.
Progress is being made; as of January 2011, 24 state legislatures have passed laws to require CO alarms in residential dwellings. “We have come a long way in a few short years when only about five states had passed laws for CO alarms,” stated Jim Ward, general manager, Kidde Residential &Commercial. “Since the process is different in each state and requires a lot of education and coalition building, it takes time for governments to adopt proactive safety laws.”
On a national level, Kidde was invited to testify on Capitol Hill regarding federal standards for all CO alarms sold in the U.S. and promoting incentives for states to require alarms in homes. In 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Residential Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (HR 1796). Under this legislation, all carbon monoxide alarms sold in the U.S. are required to comply with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 2034, the third-party independent standard to which manufacturers test and list their alarms.
Along with legislation, fire officials believe the overall increased awareness of the problem and use of CO alarms enable first responders to get to victims sooner, which saves lives and reduces injuries. Kidde backs their efforts through community awareness programs such as Operation Save A Life. Created in partnership with local fire departments and ABC TV stations, Operation Save a Life is designed to increase awareness and educate consumers about the dangers of fire and its related hazards [like CO] and how to prevent them. These programs often include news coverage, events, and alarm donations to local fire departments for distribution to low-income families and at-risk communities.
Kidde works with several organizations to increase fire and CO safety awareness:
Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS), a nonprofit organization devoted to reducing the loss of life from fire on the nation's campuses.
Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, the leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering anyone affected by a burn injury through peer support, education, and advocacy.
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, a nationwide effort to remember America's fallen firefighters.
Safe Kids USA, part of a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury.
“Ultimately, we hope to reduce deaths and injuries from fire and CO poisoning,” concluded Ward. “Losing one life is one too many.”