Community-based research on the effectiveness of the home smoke alarm in waking up children



This project targeted parents around Australia asking them to set off their home smoke alarm when their child was asleep and enter the results onto a special web site. The main aim was to determine the likelihood of children waking up under the same alarm conditions as would apply on a typical night at home. Valid data were collected for 123 children (60 M, 63 F, ages 5–15 years). Recruitment was done entirely via the media and postcards. Parents set off the smoke alarm closest to the child's bed for 30thinspaces, 1–3 h after sleep onset and 78% slept through the alarm. Younger children (5–10 years) were significantly more at risk, with 87% sleeping through, compared with 56% of 11–15-year olds. Of the 27 children who woke up, 61% knew that the sound that woke them was a smoke alarm and 47% indicated that they knew they should leave the house. Our previous research suggests that some 5–10% more children may wake up if the alarm continues for 3 min. This study, consistent with previous less naturalistic studies, suggests that less than a third of children may wake up to their home smoke alarm within 3 min. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.