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Fire alarms 'should be fitted with sound of mum's voice'

Fire alarms would be more effective at waking sleeping children in the event of a blaze if they were fitted with the sound of their mother's voice, a new study has shown.

Children's hearing is different to that of adults, and British research last year showed that 80pc of under-13s do not wake up to the high-pitched sound of a normal home smoke detector.

To find a way round the problem, US researchers at Sleep Disorders Centre at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Ohio, tested four different types of fire alarms to see which was best at waking youngsters.

They tested three alarms that used the mother's voice in addition to a high-pitch tone smoke alarm commonly used in homes on 176 children aged between five and 12.

The results showed that the alarms using the mother's voice woke up 86-91pc of children and prompted 84-86pc to escape from the bedroom, compared with 53pc awakened and 51pc escaped for the tone alarm.

"These new findings put us one step closer to finding a smoke alarm that will be effective for children and practical for parents," said Dr Gary Smith, lead author of the study and director of the Centre for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

"This study confirmed that a maternal voice alarm is better than a traditional high-pitch tone alarm for waking children and prompting their escape under conditions typical of homes.

"It also showed that the mother's voice was enough to be effective without using the child's first name. This means one alarm could work for multiple children sleeping near each other in a home." (© Daily Telegraph London)


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