Can children sleep through a smoke detector alarm?

- FILE - Kidde Smoke Detector (Image: Kidde)


(ABC News) — While smoke detectors are credited with saving thousands of lives each year, some researchers suggest that you cannot always rely on their alarm sounds to wake up sleeping children during an emergency.

A small study conducted in the U.K. by researchers at the University of Dundee found that more than 80 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 13 did not wake up from a standard issue alarm.

The American Red Cross warns home fires are one of the biggest disaster threats in the U.S., with on average seven people dying and 36 people suffering injuries every day as a result of home fires.

“Good Morning America” decided to observe whether a regular smoke alarm would wake up two sleeping children with the McBride family from Connecticut.

Lauren McBride told ABC News that she was curious to see what happened “because our son sleeps through everything.”

She added that she and her husband, Pat, have an action plan in place in case there is a fire and have taught their children, Landon, 3, and Noelle, 1, what a smoke detector sounds like.

“He knows the sound,” McBride said of her son. “We have a fire ladder in our bedroom and our plan is to get them, get the ladder, and get out.”

Firefighter Travis Gluck told ABC News that that one of the most important things families can do is “just making sure your smoke detectors work.”

“The code nowadays is to put them in the bedrooms, have them outside the bedrooms, and one on every level specifically near the stairwell,” Gluck added, saying that smoke rises and often rises up through the stairwell in a home.

“GMA” set up cameras inside the children’s rooms to monitor them after they fell asleep and see if they woke up to the sound of a regular smoke alarm.

Gluck set off a smoke alarm, using a smoke device, in the hallway right outside of the children’s rooms with their doors open.

As the alarm continued to sound, the children did not even stir.

“He’s not waking up,” Pat McBride said, “and she’s not either.”

“I’m a little nervous,” Lauren McBride added. “Because, you know, what that makes me think is like, would we hear it?”

Next we set off the family’s smoke alarm system — it’s set up through their phones and alarms are found throughout the house in all the bedrooms, hallway and downstairs.

As the alarm system blared, neither child woke up.

“I truly thought they were going to wake up, like truly,” Lauren McBride said.

Pat McBride said that after the test he felt that he really had to react fast when he heard the alarm “because they’re not going to hear it.”

Lauren McBride added, “I don’t really know what to think right now.”

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