Editorials

Smoke detectors and house fires

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7371.979 (Published 02 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:979

Alarms failed because detectors were not installed or maintained properly

  1. Barry Pless ([email protected])
  1. Injury Prevention, Montreal Children's Hospital, C-538, 2300 Tupper, Montreal, PQ, Canada H3H IP3

    >Papers p 995

    Three themes recur in injury prevention: the need to implement fully what is already known, a preference for passive strategies over active ones, and pressure to evaluate new programmes formally. It is unusual for all to be reflected in a single paper, but each is evident in the report by DiGuiseppi et al in this issue (p 995).1 It is also unusual for a report to be as flawless as this one seems to be. The scientific literature is plagued with overworked phrases such as “landmark” and “milestone,” yet this study describing the results of a cluster randomised trial of a distribution programme for smoke detectors fully deserves such accolades. To have evaluated a safety programme by using this immaculate design is a huge credit to the investigators and their funding bodies. It is also to the credit of this journal and its reviewers to publish a report whose findings are “negative.” Or are they?

    For evangelists of injury prevention everywhere the greatest challenge is to implement what has been shown to be efficacious.2 …

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