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North Haven Fire Department Shares High-Frequency Smoke Alarm Warning 

Deemed Not Effective in Waking Sleeping Pre-Teens

Chief Paul Januszewski and the North Haven Fire Department would like to inform residents that high-frequency tone smoke alarms are not effective in waking sleeping pre-teens.

The Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio conducted a 2020 study to determine the most effective ways to awaken children and families during a house fire. As part of the study, research indicated that high-frequency tone alarms awaken only 56% of children and prompt 55% to “escape” from the bedroom as opposed to female voice, male voice and hybrid voice-tone alarms that awakened 85-89% of children and prompted 84-89% to “escape”.

Due to the extended period of time that pre-teens spend in slow-wave sleep, a sleep stage that requires the loudest noise to wake someone, sleeping childrens’ ability to wake up and escape in response to a variety of smoke alarms vary.

Residents should note that there are not currently any smoke alarms manufactured specifically to awaken pre-teens. As such, residents should ensure that they have a home fire escape plan that accounts for waking up pre-teens.

To ensure your family is properly alerted should a fire occur, smoke alarms should be installed inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in a central location or near the stairway to the upper level. For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so that when one smoke alarm sounds they all sound.

Residents can also purchase pillow or bed shakers that can be linked to smoke and CO alarms to awaken people from their sleep. These work by shaking the pillow or bed when the alarm sounds. Also, the use of a low-frequency alarm can wake a sleeping person with mild to severe hearing loss.

Home Fire Escape Planning and Practice

The North Haven Fire Department also shares the following home fire escape practices from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):

  • Create a home escape plan, and make a map. Share that plan with all members of your household. Designate a minimum of two ways to get out of each room, if possible.
  • Teach children how they can escape, should they need to get out of the home on their own.
  • Designate an outside meeting place a safe distance away from the home where everyone in your household should meet in the event of a fire.