Almost sixty percent of the 47 people who died in fires last year had no smoke alarm fitted in their premises according to figures released by the London Fire Brigade.
The figures have been released as part of a Brigade warning of the risks of not fitting, and maintaining, an alarm. The Brigade has also issued a YouTube video which highlights the importance of having a working smoke alarm.
Andy Hickmott, Community Fire Safety Assistant Commissioner, said: “It’s simply not acceptable that there are still Londoners who don’t have smoke alarms in their homes. They only cost about £5 and could save your life if a fire breaks out”.
“There is nothing more devastating for firefighters than to find out that someone has died or been seriously injured because a fire broke out as they slept. Smoke and fumes won’t wake you up. It’s exactly the opposite as a few breaths of smoke can cause you to lose consciousness. Don’t let this happen to you or your family when a smoke alarm from your local supermarket or DIY store could prevent it.”
London Fire Brigade’s advice on smoke alarms:
• Choose a smoke alarm that complies with the British Standard (BS) 5446 part 1 and carries the British Standard Kitemark or PCB ‘Horseshoe’ mark.
• Always put smoke alarms where you will be able to hear them throughout the home, particularly when you are asleep or when doors are closed.
• If your home has only one level, fit the alarm between the living area and bedrooms. If your home has more than one level fit one alarm at the bottom of the staircase and further alarms on each landing.
• Fit smoke alarms on the ceiling, as near as possible to the centre of the room, hallway or landing. The smoke alarm should be at least 30cm (12 inches) away from any wall or light fitting.
• Make sure you can reach your smoke alarm easily to test it each week – avoid fitting it directly over a staircase.
• Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to fit your smoke alarm and change the battery.
• Test your smoke alarm every week and change the battery every year (unless it’s a ten year alarm).
Where not to fit your smoke alarm:
• Don’t fit your smoke alarm in or near to the kitchen or bathroom as it could be set off accidentally by cooking fumes and steam.
• Don’t fit your smoke alarm in a garage where it could be set off accidentally by exhaust fumes.
• Don’t fit your smoke alarm on damp or dusty surfaces or false ceilings as there is a risk it will fall down.
There are special smoke alarms available for people who are hard of hearing, which set off a vibrating pad or flashing light.