Estimating the proportion of homes with functioning smoke alarms: a comparison of telephone survey and household survey results

Am J Public Health. 1999 Jul;89(7):1112-4. doi: 10.2105/ajph.89.7.1112.


Objectives: This study determined the proportion of homes with functioning smoke alarms in a low-income area experiencing a high rate of residential fire-related injuries.

Methods: An on-site survey of households was conducted to confirm the results of a telephone survey.

Results: In the telephone survey, 71% of households reported having functioning smoke alarms. In the household survey, 66% of households reported having functioning alarms; however, when the alarms were tested, the percentage dropped to 49%.

Conclusions: Telephone surveys may overestimate the presence of functioning smoke alarms in some populations. Thus, the use of telephone surveys to establish baseline measures could significantly affect the evaluation of smoke-alarm giveaway programs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Home / prevention & control*
  • Fires / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Oklahoma
  • Protective Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Telephone