After living in two homes with sensitive smoke alarms, we've discovered what this new study out of Australia has proven: smoke alarms don't wake up the kids. While in our case, it was a good thing since a steamy shower would set off both smoke alarms, it's a terrifying thing when you've taught your kids what to do in the event of a fire. Meeting at the tree in the front yard is not an option if your child can't even get out of bed. Scary.
When 70% of children ages 5 to 10 sleep through a smoke alarm (and 100% of the kids ages 5 and under in my house), we've got to come up with another system.
What my husband and I will do (and probably what most parents would do, honestly) is to run screaming towards the kids' room in the event of a fire. While cooler heads may be able to follow the plan to meet at the front door if the fire is coming from the back, and the back if the fire is coming from the front, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't just head towards the door and expect the kids to meet me there. Even if they were able-bodied teenagers (of which 56% of that age group slept through the alarm), I still would be racing to their room in the event of a fire.
In other words, I wouldn't rely on a smoke alarm to alert my kids regardless of their ability to wake up when a siren is tearing through their room. Which means I should be reviewing the safety rules with my kids, but most of all need to remember them myself. Rules like:
- Always feel the door before you open it. If it's hot, find another way out of the room.
- Stay low to the floor to avoid smoke inhalation.
- If you do catch on fire, remember the magic words: Stop, drop & roll.
Hopefully there will never be a fire in our house. But if the worst happens, I'm not leaving it up to my kids to save themselves. I'll grab them and run like hell.
Do you think your kids would sleep through a smoke alarm?
Image via Malud/Flickr