Voice Recordable Smoke Alarms Save Kids Lives

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Even with smoke detectors, over 3,000 people in the US last year. (fema.gov)
Even with smoke detectors, over 3,000 people in the US last year. (fema.gov) | Source

Smoke Alarms Will Keep Your Kids Safe, Right?

Here's the scenario; in the early morning hours when you and your family are fast asleep, a fire breaks out in your home and begins to spread. As the flames spread through your home, you hear that screeching tone of the smoke alarm doing it's job. In a mad rush, you run from your burning home.

Since you heard the smoke alarm go off, you assume everyone in your home heard them as well. If you have typical tone-only smoke alarms in your house, some of your children may not hear that tone regardless of how loud it may be.

In a House Fire, the First Few Minutes are Critical

According to FEMA on their Ready.gov website, it takes as little as 30 seconds for a small house fire to get completely out of control. In just the first few minutes, deadly flames and thick, poisonous black smoke can fill the entire house. These first few minutes are especially critical in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep. When waking up during a house fire, there may be barely enough time to escape the fire. Smoke alarms were designed to give people in a burning house time to escape but if the smoke alarm doesn't wake a child, they can perish in the flames.


Voice Recordable Smoke Alarms Save Lives of Kids

"Familiar Voice" Wake-Up Smoke Alarm has a 96% Success Rate

Traditional smoke alarms have been the standard of early fire detection in many homes for years, however, those typical smoke alarms may not awaken many children from sleep. Research indicates as many as 4 out of ten children fail to wake when hearing a typical smoke detector tone.

According to research conducted by the US National Institutes of Health, 96% of children awakened to the parent voice alarm compared with 58% to the tone alarm. In other words, there's a good chance half of your children may not wake up to the loud tones of the typical smoke detector found in most homes today.

WebMD's Dr. Louise Chang reported in an October 2006 article titled Mom's Voice Makes a Better Smoke Alarm:

"A new study shows personalized smoke alarms featuring the voice of a parent telling the child to wake up and leave their bedroom were nearly twice as good at waking children from a deep sleep as a conventional tone smoke alarm."

The research shows that your children are more likely to wake up sooner and get out of a burning house in those first few critical moments. While the voice recordable smoke alarms do cost about 3 to 5 times more than typical smoke alarms, they do work better. What price can a parent out on the safety or life of a child?

Voice Recordable and Talking Smoke Alarms

As the research indicates, children are more easily awakened when they hear the sound of a human voice. While the "talking" smoke alarms do produce a human voice, they do not produce the actual recorded voice of a recognizable parent or caretaker. In my opinion, this makes the voice recordable smoke alarm preferable to the talking smoke alarm.

Voice recordable smoke alarms are simply more effective because kids brains are hard-wired to recognize the sound of a familiar voice and react to the urgent tone. Imagine a parent's voice broadcasting in a very loud voice, "Sally! Wake up! Get out of bed and leave this room now!"

If you watched the news report video above, you saw the reaction of kids sleeping through 3 full minutes of a loud smoke alarm tone. Note the difference when a voice recordable smoke alarm is used - the kids wake upend respond within seconds.

Once children were awakened by the human voice smoke alarm, they were more likely to hear and follow the instructions directing them. Voice recordable smoke alarms are available at the link to the right. Personalized fire alarms are also commercially available under the brand name SignalONE, but they typically cost as much as five times more than a typical smoke detector.

Both digital voice and recordable voice smoke alarm varieties are listed to the upper right of this column.

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Have a Fire Escape Plan Ready and Practice Fire Drills Occasionally

This is a partial list of tips from the National Fire Protection Association. They recommend the following for families before encountering a house fire:

First, make a plan and get the family together to discuss the details. Walk through the entire house or apartment and point out possible exits and escape routes. If you have small children in your home, draw up a floor plan for each room showing two ways out of each room.

Make sure everyone in the household understands the fire escape plan.

Choose an outside meeting place that is a safe distance form the house. Everyone should meet at this location in the event of a fire.

Have everyone memorize the emergency number of the fire department.

If there are older adults or small children, make sure someone is assigned to help with their escape.

Once family members are outside, make sure everyone understands they need to stay outside. Nobody should go back into a burning structure. If someone is missing, inform the dispatcher when calling or the firefighters once they arrive on the scene.

It is important that you and your household practice your fire escape plan at least twice each year. Try to make the fire drill as realistic as possible.

For a complete list of the NFPA fire escape plan, go to NFPA.org/safety-information.NFPA has an Escape Planning Grid available for download on their website.

The early warning from smoke alarms, expeditious escape and a workable fire escape plan may save your entire family from a house fire.

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Take the Smoke Detector Poll

What type of smoke detectors do you currently have in your home?

  • Voice Recordable Smoke Alarms
  • Talking (Digital voice) Smoke Detectors
  • Tone-only Smoke Detectors
  • Interconnected Smoke Alarm System
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2 comments

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 17 months ago from Oklahoma

Very useful. Thanks for bringing this technology to my attention.


MKayo profile image

MKayo 17 months ago from Texas Author

Larry - you're so welcome. Thanks for stopping by and taking time to read my Hub. Have a great day!

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