The Silentnight Group has launched a national awareness campaign to expose potential “death trap” mattresses that exist in homes across the UK.

The manufacturer is calling for the industry to “clean up its act”, supporting the National Bed Federation’s new Code of Practice. At the same time the manufacturer is urging retailers “not to take risks with their business”, by making sure that they only ever buy products that have been tested properly.

To highlight the potential life-threatening danger to consumers, Silentnight Group has developed a hard-hitting educational video with an independent testing authority, to emphasise the importance of buying products that conform to UK Fire Regulations. The video and fire safety message will be communicated to consumers via a national PR drive, supported with a dedicated outreach programme to showcase the video footage to retailers.

The video compares the difference in a controlled burn test of a compliant Silentnight mattress to that of a non-compliant (imported) mattress bought online from a UK retailer. All brands and products manufactured by the group – from Silentnight, Sealy, Rest Assured, Layezee, Perfecta and the Pocket Spring Bed Company – comply fully with UK legal requirements and statutory standards.

Whereas the compliant Silentnight mattress fails to ignite, the non-compliant mattress sets alight, and within three minutes is filling the room with deadly toxic fumes. After six minutes the room is completely ablaze. Given that the average time for firefighters to reach a fire is nine minutes, the consequences are strikingly clear.

The latest fire statistics, collated by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) – the Government body behind the Fire Kills campaign – also reinforces the importance of consumers being extremely vigilant in the products that they buy: fires which started in bedrooms accounted for nearly one in 10 (8.8%, 3315) of the 37,601 total accidental fires in dwellings – they claim a much a higher proportion of casualties; there were 37,601 accidental dwelling fires in 2011/12, causing 244 deaths in total, but bedroom fires accounted for 70 (or 28.7%) of these deaths – with only fires started in living rooms causing more fatalities; furthermore, bedroom blazes claim a higher ratio of non-fatal casualties than fires started in other rooms (351 per 1,000 fires, compared with 292 per 1,000 for living room/dining room/lounge fires and 201 per 1,000 for kitchen fires).

The 2011/12 figures for all types of fires show that 13 (out of 287) deaths and 228 (out of 8926) injuries were caused by beds or mattresses, but examining fires when beds and mattresses were “mainly responsible”, they accounted for 2.2% of fires in 2010/11 (the latest statistics available), but 13.7% of deaths.

The Silentnight Group has invested heavily in its own in-house testing laboratory, which has been operational since 1980, and places the utmost importance on quality and assurance. This year alone it has performed 977 flammability tests on incoming raw materials and 2778 flammability tests on finished products. Fire test certification is also retained for all models and available for inspection by all retailers.

Steve Freeman, MD of the Silentnight Group, says: “Many beds and mattresses are simply a death trap - this is an issue that the industry can not shy away from, and urgent action must be taken to ensure that UK consumers are not unknowingly being put at risk.

“We all saw the impact that the horse meat scandal had on the frozen food ready meal market, with the negative impact and bad publicity that it had on the named retailers involved in selling these items. Clearly we do not want the same to happen within our industry, but unless we take action now - going into Christmas especially - this is exactly the situation we could find ourselves in.”

A recent project by Trading Standards has highlighted an alarming scale of non-conformance to UK FR Regulations.