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Mom’s Voice Is Best Smoke Alarm

Mom’s voice is the best smoke alarm to prevent child fatalities and injuries in nighttime home fires, according to a new study.

The Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Sleep Disorders Center at Nationwide Children’s Mom's Voice Is Best Smoke Alarm -- Altizer Law PCHospital in Columbus, Ohio recently published their findings in The Journal of Pediatrics. Fatalities in residential fires are more likely at night, when everyone is sleeping. Many young children (ages 5 – 12) sleep more soundly than adults and often are not awakened by the shrill tone of conventional fire alarms.

The research focused on two critical questions that could save a child’s life in the event of a home fire at night. What is the most effective alarm sound to awaken children at night, and, what effect does the specific alarm have on the amount of time needed for the child to awake and escape the bedroom.

Researchers tested four alarms: one conventional shrill tone alarm and three alarms that used the mother’s voice.

The alarms using the mother’s voice awoke 86-91 percent of the children in the study These alarms also prompted 84-86 percent of those children to leave the bedroom. The conventional alarm awoke 53 percent of the children and prompted 51 percent to exit the bedroom.  (Thus, a sleeping child was about 3 times more likely to be awakened by one of the three voice alarms than by the tone alarm).

Researchers also analyzed response and escape time. Response time is the essential difference between life and death in many nighttime home fires. The median time to “escape” the bedroom in response to the conventional shrill alarm was 282 seconds. Five minutes to respond to an alarm in the event of a real fire could result in serious injury or death. The median time to escape in response to an alarm using mom’s voice was 18 – 28 seconds.

Researchers also tested the effect of including the child’s name in the alarms using the mom’s voice. They found no significant difference between mom’s alarms using the child’s name and those that did not use the name.

This age bracket was analyzed because children under the age of 5, according to fire safety experts, are not mature enough to rescue themselves in the event of a fire. Teens (aged 12 and up) were excluded because teens do not have the same resistance to awakening to a conventional smoke alarm. One of the authors of the study explained that “children sleep longer and deeper than adults and require louder sounds to awake than adults. For these reasons, children are less likely to awaken and escape a nighttime home fire.”

Several voice alarm products are available in a range of prices. Some are dual smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The next phase of the research is set to examine the effectiveness of a generic male or female voice compared to the mother’s voice.

If you have children aged 5 to 12 in your home, you can improve their safety in the event of a nighttime fire by installing a smoke alarm that uses mom’s recorded voice.

We hope that the knowledge that mom’s voice is the best smoke alarm will help you protect your family.

The team of Altizer Law, P.C., is committed to the safety of our neighbors. If, however, the negligence or wrongdoing of another person causes injury to your loved one, call trusted attorney Bettina Altizer to analyze and assess your experience and your right to seek financial compensation for your hurts and harms.