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Research for new smoke alarm technology emerges


April 30, 2013

Lake Stevens Fire has been an advocate and voice for smoke alarm safety for several decades. Smoke alarms are an essential resource of fire escape plans and early detection of fire. Working smoke alarms can reduce by half the number of fire fatalities according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

Lake Stevens Fire Public Educator Jennye Cooper stated, “A smoke alarm is created to produce a loud, piercing sound when it detects the smoke from a fire. The intent of having smoke alarms is that if you are sleeping when they go off, they will wake you up.”

However, different age groups have different sleep patterns. Recent studies from NBC news have shown that younger children sleep differently and have a chance of sleeping through the sound of a smoke alarm. They performed a test with a family of four, including two children. As soon as the children went into a deep sleep, the smoke alarms were set off. The children were fully aware that the study was being performed, but the shocking results were that the children did not wake up to the sound of the alarms. According to Dr. Gary Smith, a researcher at Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital, “Children spend more time in deep sleep than adults do, and that’s why it’s harder for them to awaken in the case of an emergency.”

Smoke alarm companies are working on developing new technology that would allow parents to record their voice as the sound of the alarm. NBC reported that there are some smoke alarms available online with this technology, but resources are small and there is no research to determine if these alarms are more effective than the typical smoke alarms. The research on this technology is currently being studied and NBC reported that it may be a year from now until it is completed.

Until this technology is developed and determined to be effective, Lake Stevens Fire recommends the following:

Practice your family fire escape plan often with your children.

While practicing your escape plan, incorporate the smoke alarms.

Make sure each adult has a designated child to wake up in a real fire and practice this during the plan.

Test your smoke alarms with your children and have them listen to the sound of the alarm. This trains your brain and your children’s brains to recognize that sound.

Install photoelectric and ionization alarms in your home.

If you do not have working smoke alarms in your home, please call Lake Stevens Fire to schedule a smoke alarm installation and informational home safety survey. This is FREE while supplies last. If you have any questions about smoke alarms or escape plans, please call Public Educator Jennye Cooper at 425-334-3034.


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