Fire Prevention Week Oct 6th - 13th - The Truth about Children and Smoke Alarms

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If a fire alarm sounds in the night, will anyone hear it? That may sound like an improbable notion, however, the truth is that most adolescent and teen children would not wake to the sound of a home fire alarm in the middle of the night.

In a study conducted by two Australian researchers entitled “Community-Based Research on the Effectiveness of the Home Smoke Alarm in Waking Up Children” (D. Bruck and I. R. Thomas, Victoria University, Australia)* found that 75% of the participating children aged 5-15 did not wake to the sound of the closest fire alarm during the first 30 seconds of activation. Of the children who did awaken, only 60% correctly identified the beeping sound as a fire alarm and only 30% understood the alarm meant they needed to evacuate the home.

The study offered the following recommendations to improve the fire emergency response:

  • Install interconnected or multiple-station fire alarms so all detectors activate to send an alarm if any detect smoke/ fire
  • Train children to understand the need to evacuate the home when they hear an alarm
  • Make plans for parents to awaken sleeping children and assist with their evacuation

Need help with your emergency response planning? Please contact RCM&D Risk Consulting for advice and assistance.

Email Greg at ghart@rcmd.com with your questions or comments.  

For more information on fire and smoke alarm safety:

US Fire Administration: Children and Smoke Alarms

FEMA: Home Fire Prevention and Safety Tips

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA): Smoke Alarm Safety Tips

*Note: You must have access to Wiley Online Library to read the full report

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