To test whether children awaken from slow wave sleep and perform an escape procedure better in response to a smoke alarm that uses a male voice, female voice, combination of a low-frequency tone plus a female voice (hybrid alarm), or high-frequency tone.
Using a randomized, non-blinded, repeated-measures design, 188 children aged 5–12 years were exposed during stage 4 slow wave sleep to four smoke alarms.
Among study subjects, 84.6%, 87.2%, 88.8%, and 56.4% awakened and 84.0%, 86.7%, 88.8%, and 55.3% successfully performed the escape procedure within 5 min of alarm onset in response to the male voice, female voice, hybrid, and high-frequency tone alarms, respectively, while the median time-to-escape was 12.0, 12.0, 13.0, and 96.5 s for these four alarms, respectively. All pairwise comparisons between the high-frequency tone alarm and each of the other three alarms were statistically significant for the proportions of subjects who awakened or escaped and for time-to-awaken and time-to-escape. There were no significant differences in these outcome measures between the latter three alarms.
Use of the male or female voice or hybrid alarms in children’s sleep areas may reduce residential fire-related injuries and deaths among children old enough to perform self-rescue.
The male voice, female voice, and hybrid alarms were each significantly more effective than a high-frequency tone alarm in awakening children aged 5–12 years from slow wave sleep and prompting their performance of an escape procedure.
There were no significant differences in the effectiveness of the male voice, female voice, and hybrid alarms when compared with each other.
Use of these alarms in children’s sleep areas may reduce residential fire-related injuries and deaths among children old enough to perform self-rescue.
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This research was supported by grants from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grants # R49CE002106 and R43CE002638; principal investigator: G.A. Smith). The interpretations and conclusions in this article do not necessarily represent those of the funding organization. The funding organization had no involvement in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Smith, G.A., Chounthirath, T. & Splaingard, M. Comparison of the effectiveness of female voice, male voice, and hybrid voice-tone smoke alarms for sleeping children. Pediatr Res 88, 769–775 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41390-020-0838-1
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