Most children and teens can sleep through a smoke alarm that sounds for 30 seconds, researchers in Australia found.
“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,” Dr. Dorothy Bruck of Victoria University in Melbourne said in a statement.
In the study, parents of 123 children averaging just under 9 years old—60 boys and 63 girls from 79 families—were asked to trigger their smoke alarm for 30 seconds after their child, or children, had been asleep for 1 to 3 hours.
About 70% of the participants were ages 5-10 years and 30% ages 11-15. Eighty-seven percent of the younger group slept through the smoke alarm, while 56% of children ages 11-15 didn’t wake up.
The children were split into two age groups because plasma melatonin levels drop with puberty onset and the melatonin hormone is known to be sleep-inducing.
The study, published in the journal Fire and Materials, found only one-half of the children who did wake up recognized the sound as a smoke alarm and half of those children knew they should evacuate.
“This data suggests fire safety training needs more emphasis on the need for children to evacuate the home in the event of an alarm sounding,” said Bruck, the study leader.
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House Logic March 13, 2011
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