Some Children Sleep Through Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are an essential component in protecting your family and property in the case of a fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 3 out of every 5 fire deaths occur in homes without a smoke alarm. That said, Children will often sleep through smoke alarms. According to a “researchers at Victoria University in Melbourne, 78% of school-aged children slept through a smoke alarm blaring for 30 seconds.” (Time.com)

Dr. Gary Smith explains why in this excerpt from Today.com:

“It would astound you at how loud the sounds can get and the children continue to sleep through them,” said Dr. Gary Smith, a researcher at Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital who has been studying smoke detectors and sleeping children for years.

“They’re biologically different than adults, and that’s absolutely critical for us to understand when we’re trying to prevent injury and death among children” Smith said. “They are simply not small adults. They’re different biologically.”

And that means they sleep differently. “Children spend more time in deep sleep than adults do, and that’s why it’s harder for them to awaken in the case of an emergency,” Smith explained.

After the following experiment performed by Jeff Rossen of Dateline, the Hollander family found they needed to add an extra step to their escape plan.

Now, as part of the Hollander family fire escape plan, the adults have assigned themselves a designated child to wake up during a fire emergency.

A fire escape plan is just as essential as a smoke detector. Remember the Melbourne study from above?  “Of the 22% of the children who awoke, only half identified the noise as a smoke alarm. And only half of those children knew that smoke alarms meant to get out now.”

In the meantime, new technologies are being explored to assist in waking up children in deep sleep, as on all things, do your research and make sure your family is properly protected. As we, along with the National Fire Protection Agency, have stated in the past, “An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, or where extra time is needed, to awaken or assist others, both types of alarms, or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms are recommended.”

Remember smoke detectors save lives and a family fire escape plan can save even more.