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Don’t drown in toxic smoke, warns London Fire Brigade

London Fire Brigade is supporting the government's national
London Fire Brigade says "Don't drown in toxic smoke"
Major new government fire safety campaign launches in London

Drowning in the toxic smoke of a house fire is the risk you take if you don't have a working smoke alarm.

That is the stark message being delivered by London Fire Brigade in support of the government's national "Don't drown in toxic smoke" advertising campaign launching today (October 5).

After just two to three breaths of this toxic smoke, your lungs fill up - just like drowning - as shown in a new television advert - and you fall unconscious.

The campaign aims to highlight the importance of having a working smoke alarm, which should be tested weekly to check it works.

New survey results from the government's "Fire Kills" campaign* show that Londoners vastly underestimate the impact of toxic smoke.

Of those surveyed in the capital:

  • 50 per cent believe they could survive for more than two minutes in a smoke filled room
  • 44 per cent think they would be alerted to a fire by the smell of the smoke
  • 14 per cent believe a pet (e.g. their dog barking), or someone else would alert them to a house fire

In reality the only way to buy vital time to escape from a house fire is by having a working smoke alarm.

Although 83 per cent of those surveyed in London own smoke alarms, six out of ten people admit to not testing them every week*. This is despite the fact that you are more than twice as likely to die in an accidental house fire if you do not have a working smoke alarm**.

London Fire Brigade's Assistant Commissioner for Community Safety Andy Barrett commented: "Most people have no idea how poisonous smoke from a house fire can be - literally a couple of breaths can make you unconscious. Most people wouldn't survive longer than two minutes in a smoke filled room. The only way to buy precious seconds to escape from a house fire is by having a working smoking alarm."

"People die needlessly each year because they aren't alerted soon enough to fires in their homes. I'd urge every Londoner to: buy a smoke alarm; test it weekly and plan your escape route in the event of a fire. This simple advice could be the difference between life and death."

EastEnders actress Jill Halfpenny, who is supporting the campaign, said: "As a mum I am very conscious of trying to keep my home as safe as possible to reduce the risks from fire, which is why I am supporting this important Fire Kills campaign.

Fires can and do happen, so it's important to check your smoke alarm weekly and to be aware of the dangers. Ignorance is definitely not bliss when it comes to keeping your family safe."

*  Survey conducted via One Poll on behalf of the Fire Kills campaign amongst a nationally representative sample of 3577 of adults aged 16+ in England, from 11 - 15 September 2009
** Fire Statistics UK 2007

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