Researchers at Dundee University have worked hard to develop a smoke alarm with a low pitch alarm sound and a voice message that helps to wake up children if there is a fire at night. The most successful alarm version, the researchers found, was a combined low pitch sound followed by a female voice saying ‘Wake up, the house is on fire’. A laudable project and the fruit of it will hopefully help families in the future to improve the safety of their children.
While we are greeting this development as an important break-through, we analysed the issue at hand a bit further.
Having early notification of a fire is only one element to ensure you and your children have the best chance of surviving a house fire. Teaching your children, including very young ones, what to do on hearing the alarm will prevent them from panicking and from walking out of their bedroom into a potentially dangerous situation.
You may decide that the best route of action is for your child to stay in their bedrooms and to wait for you there or for them to make their way to your room ready to evacuate. No matter what your course of action, it is imperative that children have been given clear instructions and that the fire drill is practiced.
It is essential that both parents and children get notified of a fire immediately. The best way to achieve this is to have the smoke alarms interlinked throughout the house. So, if a smoke alarm is triggered in a child’s bedroom or anywhere else in the house, the alarm would not only be raised in the bedroom of the child but also in the parents’ bedroom. Interlinking gives the maximum warning time to the parents even if, for example, a fire starts in the downstairs kitchen. This is crucial when every second counts.
Interlinking can be achieved in a traditional way with wires spanning from alarm to alarm, however, easier options are now available with battery powered radio-interlinked smoke alarms being a simple-to-install solution.
Whilst we wait for this new smoke alarm to progress through the developmental stages we should make sure that our own current fire safety precautions and evacuation plans are reviewed and where possible improved upon.
For further advice about fire safety in the home you can visit our fire prevention page.
Safelincs is engaging with Child Safety Week- an annual initiative promoted by the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT). This year’s event runs from 1st of June 2015 and is intended to raise awareness of general safety issues relating to children.
The organisers, CAPT, praise the event as a time when “an incredible range of professions and organisations, as well as families, carers and the media all do their bit to keep children safe from the pain of serious accidents.” They also proudly report that three quarters of parents engaging with Child Safety Week believe they have learnt something new, or plan to do something differently as a result of awareness gained from the campaign.
Safelincs’ field of expertise is fire safety. As such we would pose the question- do your children know what to do in the event of a fire? Nobody expects to be caught in a fire, and complacency can easily set in. If you have discussed fire safety with your children in the past, would they still remember that conversation in the event of an emergency?
You should always ensure your children recognise the sound of your smoke alarms, and that you have a family evacuation plan in place. Identify the safest route to escape from your property, and then consider what you would do if this route was blocked. Identifying a secondary escape route is incredibly important as fire is unpredictable.
Practice makes perfect, so once you have a plan run through it until you are sure everyone knows what to do. Also make sure to practice evacuation at night as well as during the day- fire can strike at any time.
Perhaps most importantly, test your smoke alarms. If your smoke alarms fail to sound in the event of a fire, all of your preparation has been in vain. Most fire related deaths are caused by smoke inhalation rather than exposure to flames, with children being especially vulnerable. Raising the alarm quickly is absolutely vital. Make sure yours are working with regular tests.
We hope you will take our advice on board in the spirit of Child Safety Week. It is all too easy to panic when faced with an emergency. Take just a few minutes this week to familiarise your family with an escape plan.
Safelincs support CAPT; we donate £1 for a range of CO alarms sold.
Safelincs has entered into an agreement with the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) to help it promote Carbon Monoxide awareness.
CAPT is the UK’s leading charity working to reduce the number of children and young people killed, disabled or seriously injured in accidents.
Two of the carbon monoxide alarms supplied by Safelincs will have £1 donated to CAPT for each sale.
Safelincs involvement with CAPT comes at a time when the charity is developing a DVD for parents, carers and other interested parties, focusing on the dangers of all types of poisoning. Safelincs is working with the charity to help ensure that CO poisoning is particularly highlighted and will help promote the DVD and other materials when they become available.
To help promote these important messages we have also created an information portal about carbon monoxide poisoning.