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Do Kids Really Sleep Through Smoke Detector Alarms?

Updated on September 23, 2015

What Kids Don't HEAR could KILL Them

If you have ever heard the smoke alarm going off, then you know it is an extremely loud, irritating noise that is not easily ignored. You may have even been jolted out of a deep sleep by the piercing sound only to find that you needed to replace the batteries. No way anyone could sleep through that racket, right? Apparently not.

According to some researchers, kids don't seem all that likely to wake up from smoke alarms or loud unfamiliar noises in general. In fact, they have done testing to establish exactly what they do and do not respond to and why. The results were surprising and disturbing at the same time.

What Do The Studies Show?

In an effort to identify a more effective smoke alarm for children, researchers compared a personalized parent -voice smoke alarm with a conventional residential tone smoke alarm, both with 100 db sound level. The comparison was not only with respect to their ability to awaken children from stage 4 sleep, but also to how well they responded once awake.

Twenty-four children, 6 to 12 years old, were trained how to perform a simulated self-rescue escape procedure when they heard a smoke alarm. Then each child's mother recorded a voice alarm message, "First name! First name! Wake up! Get out of bed! Leave the room!" For each child, either the voice or tone smoke alarm was randomly selected and triggered during the first cycle of stage 4 sleep,and then the other alarm was triggered during the second cycle of stage 4 sleep. What were the results?

  • Twenty-three (96%) of the 24 subjects awakened to the parent voice alarm compared with 14 (58%) to the tone alarm.
  • Twenty (83%)of the subjects in the parent voice alarm group successfully performed the escape procedure within 5 minutes of alarm onset compared with 9 (38%) in the tone alarm group.
  • The median time to awaken was 20 seconds in the voice alarm group compared with 3 minutes in the tone alarm group.
  • The median time to escape was 38 seconds in the voice alarm group compared with the maximum allowed 5 minutes in the tone alarm group.

The conclusion: The personalized parent voice smoke alarm at 100 dB successfully awakened 96% of children 6- to 12-years-old from stage 4 sleep with 83% successfully performing a simulated self-rescue escape procedure, significantly outperforming the 100-dB conventional residential tone smoke alarm.

This is may seem like just a dry study full of facts and figures, but seeing the evidence for yourself is irrefutable. Watch the short news clip before you make your judgment.

Parents MUST see this video!

I wouldn't want to live without any of these faces....Who could you live without?

Make A Plan

Fire experts say survivability greatly decreases once three minutes has passed. Why is this? Because house fires can double in size every 20 seconds. So you think about a wastebasket fire, or a fire in the kitchen, the fact that it doubles in size every 20-30 seconds -- to fill a room is really just a two to three minute process. What if the fire starts close to or even in your child's room? There is no time to waste in not only getting your kids to wake up, but also in getting them to respond to the danger. Fire education experts say it is very important for parents to know what their own children would do in the event of a fire.

  • They first suggest getting children familiar with how the alarm sounds.
  • Then, talk to the kids about what the family would do in the event of a fire.
  • Families should develop a plan together, keeping in mind the smoke alarm might not wake everyone, and then practice the plan as a family.
  • It is also important to practice at night.

The other thing about practicing with the entire family, it really lets your children know that you're taking it seriously, that it's not something you're saying, "Well if this ever happens, here's what you do, now we're done talking." Once you do the initial fire safety talk, don't think its over. Take these further steps to protect your family:

Do the drill. Have a fire escape plan; practice twice a year.

Plan for search and rescue. In the event of a fire, alert all children and be prepared to help them escape. Check beds and hiding places. Practice assisting or carrying kids outside.

Maintain alarms so you'll wake up. Test monthly; change batteries annually. Have at least one 85-decibel alarm on each floor and outside all sleeping areas.

We may not be able to protect our kids from every danger they may face in the world, but we don't want to be negligent when there IS something we can do to help keep them safe.

Good Example of Voice Smoke Alarm


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    • profile image

      Sherman Horton 

      5 years ago

      This is my second request

      Please help me help others......I would like a copy of the story here talking

      Of children sleeping through smoke alarm can I get a copy of this

      I am a teacher and a fire fighter.....please help me help others .....

    • profile image

      Sherman Horton 

      5 years ago

      help me help others lease.....

      I am a teacher and fireman ......I loved your "children sleeping through smoke alarms ". I just read it and need a copy of it please.

      Sherman Horton

      573 864 9778

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      9 years ago from Crowley, Tx


    • Maryanne Maguire profile image

      Maryanne Maguire 

      9 years ago from Santa Monica, CA

      Even adults need help like this. Seriously. We had a fire while I was sleeping, and a neighbor rushed over, punding on the glass slider yelling "Fire!" I awoke, thinking it was like a scene from the Burb's, and said, "Yeah, right!" It wasn't until he yelled again, that it jarred me out of sleep.

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      9 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      Thanks very much. I will definitely check you out.

    • dealrocker profile image


      9 years ago from California

      This was really an informative hub. Appreciations...

      Liked your other hubs too. Keep up the great effort. Joining your fanclub and would like to invite you to join mine. :)

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      10 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      Exactly. Thanks for your comment as well as all your excellent hubs on how to prevent fires in the first place.

    • bengriston profile image


      10 years ago

      For years it was assumed that these smoke detectors would wake those in the home. But many kids today are exposed to constant white noise of gadgets I think they have learned to tune them out. It is good to see they are working on smoke detectors that will work.

    • The How To Hub profile image

      The How To Hub 

      11 years ago from Australia

      Oh my goodness.....this made me cry : ( We try so hard as parents to do everything right and protect our children, and then to see something like this breaks my heart.

      We had a near miss in our home when I was 13 years old. A pillow fell off my bunk bed and onto the mosquito coil we had in our room. I slept thru the entire thing! So tell me why it's taken 20 years for someone to put two and two together and get four?! Thank you so much for sharing this....I will be warning everyone I know.

    • solarshingles profile image


      11 years ago from london

      Rhym, you are such a good writer! And not only the master story teller, here you have found and presented something very, very important for our every day life. It is even more important, because it is about our children!

    • Ohagan, Kyle profile image

      Ohagan, Kyle 

      11 years ago

      click my name to see some of my hubs! great article!

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      11 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      I am so glad to know that you are alright. I already knew you were fine.;) Thanks for the cool fan mail too, btw.

    • DJ Funktual profile image

      DJ Funktual 

      11 years ago from One Nation Under a Groove

      I slept through a smoke alarm and a car accident a s achild and it scared my parents a lot. But I'm fine. GREAT HUB Rhym!

    • cgull8m profile image


      11 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Rhym for sharing this with us, no wonder many children don't respond to fire alarm and get killed. I think every family should follow this. Great Hub.

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 

      11 years ago from California

      This was a great HUB. Thank you for sharing that information with us.

    • Gerg profile image


      11 years ago from California

      I bought one of the KidSmart detectors and installed it today, Rhym - works great! Thanks for the suggestion.

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      11 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      You are very welcome. I love the new picture, btw.

    • Lola Eden profile image

      Lola Eden 

      11 years ago from the South

      This brought tears. My family will be discussing this one tonight. Thank you so much.

    • Rhym O'Reison profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhym O'Reison 

      11 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      Thanks Gerg, as soon as I found out about it I had to tell as many people as I could.

    • Gerg profile image


      11 years ago from California

      Wow - this is powerful. I appreciate you sharing this information - I'll discuss with my kids tonight.



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