If a Smoke Detector Sounds, Will Your Sleeping Kids Hear It?

July 10, 2015 by Valerie Griffiths

Smoke detectors are glaring and annoying by design. They exist to alert you and your family in case of smoke and danger, so you can quickly exit the house and call for help if needed…right? Yes, that’s true, but they may not be serving their purpose when your family is fast asleep.

One Fire Safety Journal study found that 85% of children from six to 17 years old did not wake up during a test with a standard smoke alarm. This is because children spend more of the night in deep sleep stages, as compared to adults. Deeper sleep patterns make them much harder to awaken, even in cases of emergency.

So what can be done? Fortunately, there are a few options that can offer peace of mind in these situations.

Strobe Light Smoke Detector. You might consider a strobe light smoke detector, designed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. They flash super bright lights in white or red. They’re designed to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and proven to be effective in waking up family members who don’t respond to audible alarms.

Vibrating Smoke Alarms. Vibrating smoke alarms are also available. They include vibrating pads or sensors that are plugged into the wall, and placed under the mattress. The alarms are designed to sense the audible smoke alarm, and vibrate the bed to signal danger.

Recordable Smoke Detector. Another great option is a recordable smoke detector, in which you record your voice in place of a conventional alert tone. Personalized parent voice smoke alarms awakened 96% of sleeping children in one test, proving their efficacy.

Commercial buildings are required to have functional audible smoke detectors in each room or hallway. Many businesses are also required to have fire alarm systems, sprinklers, and even audio communication systems to help people navigate to safety. Specific rules depend on the building size and number of occupants and vary according to state regulations. Still, across the board, public fire alarms are far louder than the ones in your home.

Now that you know the options, you can make the best decisions based on your family’s needs. Realizing that a blaring smoke detector might not wake your sleeping children is frightening but it doesn’t mean you can’t create a solid fire escape plan. Once you acknowledge the problem, create a suitable workaround to offer peace of mind when danger is present.