Sleeping child and smoke alarmsNew research by the University of Strathclyde and Derby Fire and Rescue Service has raised concerns about the effectiveness of smoke alarms in waking children.

The study, carried out by the university’s Centre for Forensic Science looked at the ability of smoke alarms to wake 34 children (20 girls and 14 boys) aged between two and 13. It found that 80 per cent slept through smoke detector alarms.

Each child was tested six times, and only seven children woke during any of the tests. Only two children woke each time, and none of the 14 boys who took part in the research woke at all.

Professor Niamh Nic Daeid, of Strathclyde’s Centre for Forensic Science, who led the research said:

“While the results of this study remain preliminary given the number of children involved, they do highlight concerns that cannot be ignored about the effectiveness of smoke detectors in waking children.

“Further research is required to build on the findings to date and investigate robust solutions to the issues highlighted.”

While still supporting the installation of a working smoke alarm on every level of the home, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service is also calling for domestic sprinklers being fitted into all new domestic dwellings and retrofitted into the homes of those most vulnerable to fire, as and where appropriate. They have also reminded families about the importance of planning an escape route should it ever be needed.