Children unlikely to hear, react to smoke alarms: study

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Melbourne, Australia – Fewer than 1 out of every 3 children between the ages of 5 and 15 will wake up when a home fire alarm sounds, indicates an Australian study published March 9.

According to a study abstract, researchers from Victoria University asked the parents of 123 children to trigger their home smoke alarm for 30 seconds after their children had been asleep for one to three hours. Overall, 78 percent of the children in the study slept through the alarm, but the likelihood of children waking improved with age. Parents reported that 87 percent of children 5 to 10 years old slept through the alarm, while 56 percent of children 11 to 15 did.

Of the small number of children who did wake up at the sound of the alarm, only half of them recognized the sound and, of those children, only half knew to evacuate the home. The study was published online ahead of print in the journal Fire and Materials.

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