How fast do children react to the sound of a fire alarm?

WSYR-TV - On average, it takes most adults only 30 seconds to wake up from the sound of a smoke alarm.

For kids, however, national studies show on average that they sleep through the sound of a fire alarm up to three minutes or longer.

NewsChannel 9’s Sean Martinelli puts a Syracuse 9-year-old to the test during a family fire drill.

9-year-old Max French’s mother, Tina, says the family hasn’t discussed fire safety much in the past.

On a school night, Max heads to bed around 8 p.m. He does not know that NewsChannel 9 crews would return to his home after he was asleep.

The fire alarm was first set off downstairs, and Max did not emerge from his bedroom. Then, the fire alarm was set off right outside his bedroom, and Max was still sound asleep.

"We just opened his door and he's not even moving… nothing at all. So, that's not a good thing,” Tina said. 

After leaving Max’s door open while the alarm sounds, he slept through it for a full minute before Tina woke him up.

Max said he didn’t hear anything.

Tina didn’t think our test would last as long as it did— a near six minutes.

“I thought that he was going to wake up almost instantly. Because it is very loud and the one upstairs is right outside his bedroom door. So I thought he would wake right up. Not almost six minutes into it,” Tina said.

It turns out this is more common than you might think.

Lieutenant Chris Halliday of the Manlius Fire Department says on average, kids sleep through smoke alarms for several minutes. He says children sleep a “lot deeper” than adults do.

Halliday says you have to train your child to react to the sound of a smoke detector.

“Kids don't know how to react to an alarm clock, but eventually they know than an alarm clock means it's time to wake up. You have to do the exact same thing with smoke detectors to get them used to it,” Halliday said.

Tina says fire safety will now be a top priority in their home, leaving nothing to chance if something were to happen.
 


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