Are you risking death from fire or carbon monoxide?
Each year, over 400 people die nationwide due to carbon monoxide (CO) exposure, and thousands more are injured or killed in house fires. However, only 65 percent of New Jersey residents say they have both CO and smoke detectors, as well as fire extinguishers, in their homes.
That's according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Public Health Series poll, which found that nearly all Garden State residents said they have smoke detectors, but 14 percent do not have a carbon monoxide detector and another 25 percent do not have a fire extinguisher. More than one-third are missing a CO detector, fire extinguisher or both.
Of those who have both CO and smoke detectors, 90 percent tested them at least once during the past year. Only 61 percent who have fire extinguishers gave them a safety check in the last year.
"Most houses in New Jersey are heated by either gas or oil, both of which have significant carbon monoxide risk," said David Redlawsk, director of the poll. "Every house that's heated that way should certainly have a carbon monoxide detector, and yet 14 percent don't. Even if you have electric heat, a carbon monoxide detector can be very important if you have an attached garage."
Demographics and income both play roles in who possesses certain safety devices. Millennials lag behind older people for all three items, while households making $150,000 or more are more likely to have and to check a CO detector. While those in the two top income brackets are more likely to have fire extinguishers, they are much less likely than those in the lowest bracket to have tested them over the past 12 months. At the same time, they are about 15 percentage points more likely to have all three protective devices compared to residents with lower incomes.
In New Jersey, hundreds of people go to the emergency room every year for carbon monoxide poisoning, and a fire breaks out somewhere every 20 minutes. Since January, the U.S Fire Administration has identified reports of 55 fire-related fatalities.