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Smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning are both silent killers in the home but few British households actually appreciate the very real dangers they present.

A new campaign launched today aims to change attitudes and raise public awareness of the threat, whilst highlighting some of the measures householders can take to reduce the risk and protect their families.

WAKE UP urges homeowners to take all possible precautions to make sure they have early warning of a fire or carbon monoxide in their home and will wake up in sufficient time to save their lives.

People are dying from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning in their homes because:
• They have not fitted alarms
• Fitted alarms do not work
• They do not hear the alarms in time

WAKE UP, sponsored by members of the fire prevention industry and backed by prominent politicians and media personalities, will be hard hitting and direct. It will use the press and direct mail to inform the public about the dangers of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, and provide useful advice in a simple-to-understand way via its website –

Amongst those to see the danger and lend their support to the campaign are Annette Brooke, Liberal Democrat MP and party spokesperson on children, young people and families, and Lorraine Kelly, GMTV’s people champion and guru for getting things changed.

They are joined by sleep researcher Dr. Louise Reyner, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Human Sciences at Loughborough University, and Terry O’Neill, Head of Trenton Fire Ltd, a man with 30 years experience of fighting fires with the London Fire Brigade and an expert in fire safety.

Also behind the campaign is FireAngel, the Coventry-based safety technology company that has seen at first hand the aftermath of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, and which manufacturers a wide range of alarms and detectors that aim to provide early warning and minimise their effects.

WAKE UP says you cannot assume just because you have a working smoke or CO detector in your house that its alarm will wake you.
• It may not be located close enough to the fire or leak
• Its sound may be weakened passing through closed doors
• It may be located out of earshot in another part of the home

WAKE UP stresses that the most vulnerable are children, the elderly, the disabled, the hard of hearing, anyone impaired by the effects of alcohol and those that naturally sleep deeply.

WAKE UP says if there is a fire at night in your home you can do more to increase your chances of waking up as soon as possible by:

• Understanding the risks and limitations of any existing smoke alarms
• Being aware that some people take longer to wake up
• Fitting more smoke alarms
• Fitting smoke alarms in different rooms and on different floors
• Exploring the merits of different types of smoke alarms (vibrating pads/ strobe lights) designed to help people with disabilities/special needs
• Investigate the benefits of new wi-fi smoke alarms with linked handsets that you take to bed with you. Some of these systems also offer additional warning of carbon monoxide gas, the other silent killer in the home
• Link alarms between rooms – if one goes off it triggers the others
• Link alarms to external locations to alert third parties and initiate assistance from neighbours and the emergency services

Launching WAKE UP, Mrs Brooke outlined some of the forgotten facts about fire, smoke and carbon monoxide in the home, stressing that many fatalities occur while people are asleep and in houses fitted with fire alarms and smoke detectors.

According to latest government figures, around 460 people die in house fires every year in the UK, she said. But 190 of these people had smoke alarms fitted and the figures show that only 90 of the deaths were the result of the smoke alarm not working.

You have to wonder just how many of the 100 with fully working smoke alarms died because they just did not wake up in time and/or simply didn’t hear the smoke alarm.

At the same time, she continued, public awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning remains low, despite several recent front page media reports. In the past two years, over 100 people in the UK have died after inhaling carbon monoxide fumes and countless others have been hospitalised.

WAKE UP says if there is a carbon monoxide leak in your home you have a better chance of survival if you:

• Understand the real danger of carbon monoxide poisoning
• Tell other people about the dangers of CO
• Make sure all heating appliances are regularly serviced by qualified people
• Look out for the early signs of CO poisoning – headaches, tiredness and nausea
• Buy and fit a carbon monoxide alarm in your home
• Investigate the wide range of CO detectors now available and carefully choose the one that provides the greatest protection

But when WAKE UP asked people about carbon monoxide just under one third did not know what it was or where it came from. Worryingly, 41% were unaware of the dangers it posed to their health.

“Clearly, we have to make people more aware of these dangers or lives will continue to be lost” said the MP. “We have to educate them and show them how to protect themselves. That is the WAKE UP campaign mission and we are all determined that it should succeed – it simply has to!”

Echoing these thoughts, TV presenter Lorraine Kelly added “I hope everyone will get behind WAKE UP and join in. We can do more and we must do more. We welcome support from other leading industry and media figures and for new ideas and ways to get our message across to the public.

“You may think you are safe because there is a smoke alarm fitted in your house, but can you be sure it will wake you up when the time comes. And will it be in time to save your life? The sooner you WAKE UP, the better your chances of survival.

“The situation regarding carbon monoxide is even more worrying. Our survey showed that only 26% of households have a CO detector, yet they cost as little as £20. If we don’t act now, people will continue to die in their homes from these silent killers. We must not let this happen. So find out about WAKE UP: it just might save your life!” she added.

Editor’s Note: For further information contact Century Public Relations (Tel: 024 7622 8881).


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