Less than one-third of children ages 5-15 will wake up to home smoke alarms

March 11, 2011

An Australian study to determine the likelihood of school-aged children waking up to their home smoke alarm found that 78% of children slept through a smoke alarm sounding for 30 seconds. The outcomes of the study are published today in the journal Fire and Materials.

Home smoke detectors have been relied on since the 1960s, and have been known to save lives in domestic fires. The study's results show children are most at risk of not waking up to the sound of their home's smoke detector. Though related studies have been conducted in the past, the sample size used in this study has been the largest to date.

In order to gather data for the study, parents of 123 children (79 families) were asked to trigger their smoke alarm for 30 seconds after their child, or children, had been asleep for one to three hours. 60 boys and 63 girls were included in the study and the average age was 8.82 years. The group was split into two age groups so that the younger group would be prepubescent. This is because plasma melatonin levels drop with onset and the hormone is known to be sleep-inducing. About 70% of the participants were aged from 5 - 10 years (87) and 30% from 11 - 15 years (36).

Volunteer parents reported whether or not their children woke using a research website, and the results showed that 78% of the children slept through the alarm. Of the small number of children who did wake up, only half recognized the sound as a smoke alarm, and half of those children knew they should evacuate. The data collected also showed that younger children (five to ten years old) were significantly more at risk, with 87% sleeping through the alarm, compared to 56% of 11-15 year olds.

"Parents should not rely on their children waking to the smoke alarm in the event of a fire and should not assume that they will immediately evacuate if they do wake up to a fire," says Dr. Dorothy Bruck, lead author of the study at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. "In summary, plans should not assume children will wake up to an alarm. This data suggests fire safety training needs more emphasis on the need for to evacuate the home in the event of an alarm sounding."

More information: Dorothy Bruck and Ian Thomas; "Community Based Research on the Effectiveness of the Home Smoke Alarm in Waking Up Children" ; Fire and Materials; 2010; DOI:10.1002/fam.1081

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Changes in young people's sexual practices over the last 20 years revealed

November 20, 2017
Published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study describes changes in young people's sexual practices using nationally-representative data from the National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), the ...

Motorcycle crashes cause five times as many deaths as car accidents, six times the health costs

November 20, 2017
Motorcycle accidents are costly in terms of lives and health care costs. Compared with car accidents, motorcycle accidents cause 3 times the injuries, 6 times the medical costs and 5 times the deaths, found new research in ...

Dog ownership linked to lower mortality

November 17, 2017
A team of Swedish scientists have used national registries of more than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 to study the association between dog ownership and cardiovascular health. Their study shows that dog owners had a lower ...

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Skepticus
not rated yet Mar 11, 2011
Some of the 120dB+ noise pollution that youths called music sound just like smoke alarm. Those noise levels both induced deafness and tolerance. It is good that at least 2/3 of the unwise,unfit, unadapted and defective survival instincts are readied to be weeded out when Miss Fortune cames around.
Bob_Kob
not rated yet Mar 12, 2011
Please don't take time out from yelling at kids from your porch to post here thanks.
Deadbolt
1 / 5 (1) Mar 14, 2011
They need a device that will stab the children with needles.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.