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Lose some sleep but save a life this weekend: when you change your clock, test your smoke alarm

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Fire Kills campaign is urging people to make a potentially life-saving move when they change their clocks on Sunday 25 March - by taking…

The Fire Kills campaign is urging people to make a potentially life-saving move when they change their clocks on Sunday 25 March - by taking a moment to test their smoke alarm too.

Love it or loathe it, the twice-yearly clock change is a routine part of everyone’s lives. Losing that extra hour’s sleep on Sunday 25 March may not be appealing, but turning the clocks forward will already be on the ‘to-do’ list of nearly all UK households.

But while we all keep our clocks up-to-time and working, it’s shocking to realise that many people don’t bother to do the simplest of tests to ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones from the danger of fire.

A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999. But just half of all householders who own a smoke alarm say that they test it to make sure it’s working on a regular basis.

You’re four times more likely to die in a fire if your smoke alarm is not working. So it’s clear that the simple act of testing your alarm should be a vital part of any household routine.

There were 31,477 accidental fires in the home in England last year, which resulted in 214 deaths and 6,526 injuries. The Fire Kills Campaign hopes that by adding this simple check to everyone’s clock-change routine, many more lives could be saved.

The Government’s Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser Sir Ken Knight said:

Everyone soon notices when a clock stops ticking, but it’s not so easy to be sure that your smoke alarm is still in working order. Whether the battery is flat, has been removed for a kid’s toy or the connection is loose, everyone should take the time to test their smoke alarm - it doesn’t take long at all.

You’re four times more likely to die in a fire without a working smoke alarm, but only half of people who own one say they take the time to check it regularly.

We’re all losing sleep at the start of British Summer Time, but testing your smoke alarm could save you from losing a lot more. As you put your clocks forward over the weekend, take an extra moment to push the button - it could save your life.

Chief Executive of The Fire Fighters Charity John Parry said:

Our charity aims to make a positive difference by supporting people in the fire and rescue community when they are in need. We know just how hard the fire service works to prevent fires from starting in the first place, so we are urging people to heed the advice of their local fire fighters now that British Summer Time is upon us. When you put your clocks forward this March, please take an extra moment to push the button on your smoke alarm to make sure it’s working properly - it could save your life and that of your family.

Listen out for radio and press adverts supporting the ‘When you change your clocks, Test your smoke alarm’ campaign. An online video has also been released showing a mantelpiece clock melting in the heat of a house fire - bringing home the harsh reality of the consequences of a fire in the home. Find it at: http://bit.ly/FKclock (external link).

Watch the Fire Kills video.

Find out more on the Fire Kills Facebook page: www.facebook.com/firekills (external link).

If you have an elderly relative or are a carer for somebody less able to test their smoke alarm, why not offer to do it for them? It only takes a minute.

Help keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the home by following these simple steps:

  • A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999. Make sure you fit one on every level of your home and test them regularly.
  • Make testing your smoke alarm part of your household routine. Test the alarm by pressing the button regularly; change your battery once a year or invest in a 10-year alarm; and clean the alarm casing twice a year to ensure dust isn’t blocking the sensor.
  • Whatever happens, never remove the battery in your smoke alarm.
  • Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do in a fire and practise your escape route.
  • For more information visit the Fire Kills campaign’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/firekills (external link).

If you want an extra nudge to test your smoke alarm regularly, try setting an automatic reminder. Safelincs, in partnership with Fire Kills, has created a free service that reminds you, by email or text, when it’s time to test your smoke alarm, change the battery or renew the unit. The service is completely free and can be cancelled at any time: www.safelincs.co.uk/reminders (external link).

Notes to editors

1. British Summer Time begins on the last Sunday in March. This year the clocks go forward at 1.00 am on 25 March, moving forward to 2.00 am across the UK.

2. There were 31,477 accidental fires in the home in England last year, which resulted in 214 deaths and 6,526 injuries. (Source: Fire Statistics Monitor: April 2010 to March 2011 www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/monitorq1q42011).

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