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Mom's voice could be more effective waking up a sleeping child than a smoke alarm

Posted at 6:01 PM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-16 10:36:35-05

In an emergency, a mother’s voice could wake a sleeping child three times faster than traditional smoke alarms, according to recent research.

The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found an alarm with a recording of a mother’s voice proved three times more likely to wake children ages 5 to 12.

On average, the kids in the study woke up more than two minutes faster when they heard mom’s voice versus a high-pitched smoke alarm.

The findings make sense to Tina and her 11-year-old son, Jeff, who lost everything they owned when an electrical fire gutted their Tampa apartment Nov. 16.

“Nothing wakes him up,” said Tina. “He wakes up to my voice. Alarm clocks do not work for Jeff.”

Tina told Taking Action Reporter Jackie Callaway she’s thankful the fire started after they left home that afternoon – and not while they slept.

“I think we might have died in that fire,” she said.

Tampa Fire Marshall John Reed said it may be a good idea to supplement basic smoke alarms with other devices aimed at waking kids with autism, hearing issues or deep sleep cycles.

Reed suggested one alarm that goes under a mattress and loudly beeps and vibrates the bed once a smoke alarm goes off. Other alarms use strobe lights on those difficult to wake, he said.

But Reed says homeowners and rents still need to have traditional smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Many local fire departments offer to install smoke alarms free of charge for those who can’t afford it.