STUDY: Children more likely to wake up to mother’s voice than smoke alarm

Ohio researchers have found a mother’s voice is more effective than a high-pitched smoke alarm to wake children.

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The smoke alarm sound seems powerful enough to wake even the deepest of sleepers. But a new study finds that when it comes to young children, it will not wake them right way, if at all. However, there is a sound that will wake them quickly — their mother’s voice.

Dr. Gary Smith was the lead author of the study published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

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“I think one of the most remarkable things that we saw were children that would sleep up to 5 minutes through a very loud, high-pitched tone alarm, the type of alarm that’s in most households. And yet the next time they fell asleep and we sounded the mother’s voice in the smoke alarm, they woke up almost immediately and immediately left the room,” he said.

In the case of a fire, where seconds count, it took up to 5 minutes for children to escape after a traditional alarm sounded, compared to between 18 and 28 seconds for an alarm with the mother’s voice.

“The fact that we’re able to find an alarm sound that can awaken children more quickly and get them to escape from a bedroom in case of a fire could save lives,” said Smith, Director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. “I find it kind of startling.”

A few voice alert smoke alarms are on the market and can be found locally in home improvement stores.

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