High-frequency tone smoke alarms not effective in waking sleeping pre-teens, study shows

Safety & Security
American Red Cross in CT hands out free smoke alarms

NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The North Haven Fire Department (NHFD) is out with a warning to parents.

Chief Paul Januszewski and the fire department released a warning Monday informing residents that high-frequency tone smoke alarms are not effective in waking sleeping pre-teens.

NHFD says the Center for Injury Research and Policy in Ohio conducted a study in 2020 to find out the most effective way to wake kids and families during a house fire.

The study found only 56% of kids were woken up by the high-frequency tone alarms, and only 55% were prompted to “escape” from the bedroom. A female voice, male voice, and hybrid voice-toned alarms woke 85-89% of kids and prompted 84-89% to “escape.”

The fire department explained, “Due to the extended period of time that pre-teens spend in slow-wave sleep, a sleep stage that requires the loudest noise to wake someone, sleeping childrens’ ability to wake up and escape in response to a variety of smoke alarms vary.”

NHFD encourages all residents to create a fire escape plan for themselves and their families. Since, they say, there are not currently any alarms manufactured specifically to awaken pre-teens, residents with pre-teens in the house should create an escape plan that accounts for waking up the pre-teens.

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