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The Real Deal: Kids and Smoke Alarms

Updated: Wednesday, July 30 2014, 11:18 PM EDT
COLONIE--Will your kids wake up at the sound of a smoke alarm?  It seems like a simple question with a simple answer but parents might be shocked to learn than more than 70% of kids between the age of 5 and 10 won't wake up, according to recent studies.
10 year-old Madelyn Terry and her 8 year-old sister Emily have always had a plan in the event of a fire.  Their dad is a firefighter in Colonie so they've gone over that plan a number of times, "go down the stairs and go out the back door and go to our neighbors front porch...If we can't get down the stairs we would take our chair and poke the screen out and jump down," the girls tell CBS6.  They're confident they'd know what to do in an emergency but what if that fire started in the middle of the night while the Terry girls were fast asleep, "the alarms are loud! It's very loud, very loud, we'd wake up," Emily says.
After the Terry girls were interviewed by CBS6, their parents sent them up to bed.  When they'd been asleep for a few hours, Investigative Reporter, Jennifer Lewke came back to see if in fact the girls would wake up like they were so sure they would.  First, the alarm in the bedroom next-door to the room the girls share was set-off.  After a full minute, the girls didn't move so the alarm in their room was set-off.  The alarm is right over their beds.  Four minutes passed before CBS6 turned the alarm off, the girls not only didn't wake up, they didn't move the entire time the alarm was going off.  " I'm pretty shocked, it was surprising that they didn't wake up to the one that was right in their room but then when we put the lights on and they still didn't stir, they didn't move an inch, so I'm very surprised," says Jill Terry, the girl's mother.  Jill and her husband Kevin's bedroom is right across the hall, so that's of some relief but clearly after this test, they're worried, "a head start for them, could help in a situation and they didn't hear it," Jill says.
Dr. Kevin Ihrman, an audiologist at Sunnyview Hospital, says the outcome is not surprising, "kids spend more time in stages 3 and 4 of sleep and that's the hardest sleep to wake up from and adults just spend less time in there," he tells CBS6.  The pitch and frequency of the sound can have an impact on whether a child wakes up according to Dr. Ihrman and that's why detectors that allow parents to record their own voice as an alert to their children tend to better wake kids up.  Dresser alarms and bed shakers are also an option," so when the smoke alarm goes off, there is something that vibrates and that may help get them up," Dr. Ihrman says. The Real Deal: Kids and Smoke Alarms

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