NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Smoke alarms save lives, but surprisingly, they don’t work as well for kids as for adults since children can be very sound sleepers.
Adding a voice to a smoke alarm could save your child’s life, but not just any voice – it’s mom’s voice that makes a difference.
Any parent can tell you how soundly kids sleep. Pick them up in the car, carry them into the house, put them in bed and they don’t wake up.
That means kids may not respond to the high pitch screech of conventional alarms meant to rouse people from a deep sleep in the event of a fire.
“Children sleep longer and deeper than adults and require louder sounds to awaken than adults,” said Dr. Gary Smith of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “For these reasons, they’re much more prone to die or be injured in a house fire at night when asleep.”
Some alarms already use a voice but researchers thought that a certain voice might be most effective.
They tested a few different phrases which all worked about the same — “CHARLIE, CHARLIE, WAKE UP, GET OUT OF BED, LEAVE THE ROOM” — and the key was that the voice was the child’s mother
“Most homes use a high-pitched tone smoke alarm, and when children heard that alarm sound it took them almost five minutes to escape from the bedroom,” said Smith. “However, when they heard the mother’s voice on the smoke alarm they were out within 18 to 28 seconds.”
In other words, mom’s voice made the smoke alarm three times more effective, which could be life-saving. The voice didn’t even have to use the child’s first name, so one alarm could be used for multiple children in the same household.
At this point there are no commercially available smoke alarms where mom, or dad, could record their voice. So until there are, experts strongly recommend families make a fire escape plan practice that plan both during the day as well as at night.
And one last thing about smoke alarms: On Sunday, Daylight Saving Time ends, so change your alarms batteries to stay safe.