Study Finds Mom’s Voice Is Way More Effective Than Any Smoke Alarm

smoke alarm

A study in the Journal of Pediatrics has moms everywhere saying: “I KNEW IT!” The study, which used 176 five-to-twelve-year-olds to test the effectiveness of different smoke alarms, found that nothing gets a kid awake and out the door faster than mom’s voice. You read that right: a mom’s voice is the very best smoke alarm.

Researchers taught the kids in the study a fire-escape procedure, then used EEG’s to monitor when they were in a deep sleep. Then, to wake the child, they set off either a standard smoke alarm, or one of three versions of their mother’s recorded voice.

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The results showed that the standard smoke alarm tone only woke kids about fifty percent of the time, and it took them a whopping five minutes to get out of the room on average.

Um, YIKES! That makes me a bit nervous about the effectiveness of the smoke alarms in my home, for sure!

Here’s the CRAZY (yet it totally makes sense!) part of their findings: when a mother’s voice was used (shouting the child’s name, instructions, or both) instead of the standard smoke alarm tone, kids woke an average of 90 percent of the time and were up and out the door in an average of just THIRTY SECONDS! I have to tell you, that finding is staggering to me, even though I find it believable. Thirty seconds over five minutes in a fire is BEYOND the difference between life or death!

The study’s lead author, Dr. Gary Smith from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, wondered if any human voice would do, or if the mother’s voice in particular is the most effective. (Sounds like another study is called for, to me!)

“What we really want,” he said, “is an alarm optimized for kids that will work for all age groups.”

I have to say, I hope the results of the study GO somewhere and result in more effective alarms. Fire is a hazard we all prepare for but hope we will never have to face. I for one, would definitely pay for an ultra-effective smoke alarm that was proven to get my kids awake and out of the room in just a few seconds over several long minutes.

What do you think of these results? As a mom, I’m not surprised at all, but I am definitely hoping the results can be further tested and used effectively.


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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.