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A Mother’s Voice Wakes Up Her Kids in Danger Better Than Alarms, Study Finds

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There’s nothing quite like the sound of a mother’s voice when it comes to calming down a child. But now, research shows that a mom’s voice may also be key to alerting her kids of potential danger while the little ones are asleep.

An October 2018 study published in the Journal of Pediatrics studied 176 children aged 5 to 12 to find out which type of alarm would be best to wake them up in the event of a fire. Researchers tested four different smoke alarms, three of which featured the voices of the participants’ moms, in a sleep research center. The fourth alarm tested in the study was a typical high-pitch tone smoke alarm used in many homes around the country. As it turned out, Mom’s sweet voice was much better than the usual alarm when it came to waking up the little darlings.

Results showed that a sleeping child was nearly three times more likely to wake up after hearing one of the voice alarms than the traditional alarm. The alarms using the mother’s voice woke up 86 to 91 percent of the children and also prompted 84 to 86 percent of them to make an “escape” from a room. In comparison, the traditional alarm woke up just about 53 percent of the kids and prompted 51 percent of them to escape. On top of that, hearing Mom’s voice also reduced the time it took a child to actually leave the room; the median escape time after hearing the traditional alarm was 282 seconds, while the voice alarm escape time ranged from 18 to 28 seconds. So not only was hearing the mother’s voice more likely to wake a child up, it may even be more likely to actually save their life in the event of a real fire.

“Children are remarkably resistant to awakening by sound when asleep,” said study co-author Mark Splaingard, MD, in a press release. “Children sleep longer and deeper than adults and require louder sounds to awaken than adults. For these reasons, children are less likely to awaken and escape a nighttime home fire. The fact that we were able to find a smoke alarm sound that reduces the amount of time it takes for many children 5 to 12 years of age to wake up and leave the bedroom could save lives.”

For the time being, experts suggest that people continue to use their traditional smoke alarms. That said, don’t be surprised if we see a change in what types of alarms are used in the future. After all, moms are what heroes are made of — and we didn’t even need a study to show us that.

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