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As was very recently demonstrated on NBC’s evening news, children can sleep through the shrillest smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Even when the alarm is within feet of their beds, it can fail to wake them. This is alarming in its own right, and definitely calls for another look at your family’s escape plan in the event of fire.

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Alarming News Is a Wake Up Call

Parents must have been watching with horror as video backed up the report that smoke alarms do not reliably wake up children.  As adults were turning down their televisions to reduce the shrillness of the beeping in the footage, the children in it just kept sleeping. They never did wake up, and – when shaken awake – they said they had not heard the alarm at all.

Maybe this is no surprise to parents across the country who are used to giving their kids multiple wake-up calls in the morning to get them out of bed. How many of those parents, however, have translated that into a recognition that smoke and gas alarms are of no help to sleeping children? Mothers note almost with amusement that the alarm clock might as well go to Goodwill and do not often think about what that means for fire safety.

Time To Wake Up To Fire Dangers

A revised fire escape plan is the first thing that needs to happen, one that assigns each adult in the house responsibility for waking a specific child and getting them out. Single parents especially need to reconsider their plans for rousing everyone and getting them to safety. Families need to draw up plans that assume the children will sleep through an alarm rather than waking to it on their own.

NBC’s disturbing news does not mean that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a waste of time and money, since they reliably wake adults. It means taking another look at the family’s escape plan and revising it for the reality of sleeping children. It also means that greater attention to fire safety, with more frequent professional cleanings of chimneys and dryer vents, is overdue.