Mother’s voice makes best alarm

Local News

There’s no question a working smoke detector can save lives in the event of a house fire, but studies have found children are such sound sleepers they snooze right through the loud, high-pitched tones.

Now a new study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio alerts us to what can rouse children: The sound of their mother.

“Smoke alarms that used mother’s voice were much better at awakening children and getting them to leave the bedroom than the typical high-pitched tone alarm that is found in most American households,” says Dr. Gary Smith.

The reactions of 176 sleeping children were measured in a lab where they were never in any danger from fire.

When a standard smoke alarm sounded about half woke up, but more than three-quarters of the kids woke up when alarms were programmed with mom’s voice urging her children to “wake up” and “leave the room.” 

“We don’t really know why a mom’s voice works so well. In fact, we’re not really sure that it has to be mother’s voice. Perhaps it can be any woman’s voice or a human voice,” Dr. Smith says.

Studies have shown about half of house fires occur at night, when residents are asleep.

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