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Many households across Britain are still incorrectly assuming that smoke alarms will save their lives in the event of a fire at night.

This is the conclusion of a survey by WAKE UP, the new hard hitting campaign championed by politicians, the fire safety industry and media personalities to raise awareness of the dangers of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning in the home.

WAKE UP researchers polled 389 households for the survey, 51% of which were owned and the remainder rented, and initially found some quite encouraging results. 79% of those responding said they had at least one working smoke alarm in the home and the average was three alarms per household. This corresponds closely with government figures indicating that around 80% of households have at least one working smoke alarm installed.

But when it came to the location of smoke alarms, the WAKE UP survey figures were less reassuring. Only 6% said they had smoke alarms ‘everywhere’ in their property, and whilst 33% had one in the hallway, 28% had one in the kitchen and 16% in the living room, only 7% has a smoke alarm in the bedroom.

Moreover, 63% said they believed they had enough smoke alarms in the property to warn them in the event of a fire and 75% stated they were confident their smoke alarm would wake them if a fire started at night.

Such confidence is misplaced, say WAKE UP campaigners, especially as it is not supported by later responses to testing smoke alarms. Bearing in mind that government advice is to test smoke alarms once a week, the survey discovered that 37% had tested their smoke alarms within the last three months, 26% had done so in the past 12 months, and 37% couldn’t remember when they last tested their smoke alarms.

“Our survey results raise a number of issues about the use of smoke alarms in the home and indicate to us that there is still a great deal of apathy and ignorance about the dangers of smoke inhalation, especially if a fire starts at night when people are asleep,” says a WAKE UP campaign spokesperson.

Fires most often start at night and can double in size every 30 seconds, he/she pointed out. But it is the smoke from a fire that is the real killer. It suffocates quickly, making it soon impossible to wake up and in many cases people die in their beds from smoke inhalation before the flames ever reach them.

It is thus common sense that the sooner someone wakes up and is alerted to a fire in their home the better their chances of being able to get them and their families out of danger.

But people continue to assume that just because they have a smoke alarm in their home it will wake them when there is a fire. They should not do this: the sound of the alarm may not reach them if the detector is not near enough to the fire to activate it, or is located some distance from where they are sleeping, especially if doors are closed at night.

Another often overlooked but important factor to consider is that some groups of people take longer than others to wake up. Those most at risk include children, the elderly, the disabled, those that may have drunk too much alcohol or taken drugs, and those that naturally sleep deeply.

“The issue of children is particularly worthy of comment in this regard,” says the WAKE UP spokesperson. “Our survey indicated that 48% of respondents had children in the house, but only 7% of them said they had a smoke detector in the bedroom. The problems children can have waking up was illustrated in a recent Australian study that found only 6% of children woke at the sound of a standard fire alarm fitted in a home hallway. When an alarm was installed in the bedroom that number still only rose to 50%.

“This survey indicates we have a great deal of work to do to highlight the dangers and educate people to take all possible precautions to make sure they have early warning of a fire in their home and can be confident they will wake up in time to save their lives.

“It is a big challenge but one our supporters are determined to meet, and we are hopeful that future surveys will indicate that our message is being heard,” he adds.



WAKE UP aims to change attitudes and raise public awareness of the dangers of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning in the home, and to highlight the measures householders can take to reduce the risk and protect their families.

The campaign is sponsored by the fire prevention industry and backed by prominent politicians and media personalities. Amongst those backing WAKE UP are Annette Brooke, Liberal Democrat MP and party spokesperson on children, young people and families, GMTV presenter Lorraine Kelly, sleep researcher Dr. Louise Reyner from Loughborough University, and Terry O’Neill, Head of Trenton Fire Ltd. Also behind the campaign is FireAngel, the Coventry-based fire safety technology company.

WAKE UP says if there is a fire at night in the home, people can do more to increase their chances of survival 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

For further information contact Century Public Relations on 024 7622 8881

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Century PR in the following categories: Health, for more information visit