Smoke Detectors and Kids: A New Solution? - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

11/30/04

Smoke Detectors and Kids: A New Solution?

It was a search for a solution we hoped would work: a vocal smoke detector that's supposed to do what no other detector can, wake children. Our test showed it didn't work. Owners of the company called us, convinced we had not used the detector properly. After they talked with our Dawn Baker, we decided to retest.

We were very disappointed when the alarm didn't work. But we weren't the only ones. The detector's maker called us and it turns out they didn't send us the full directions, only what was on the back. So we agreed to test again.

The representative from Kidsmart, Katie Brock, says our test didn't work, since we didn't have any directions and did not know to tell Lisa Colbert to call her daughters' names instead of referring to them as "girls." And she did not give them specific escape instructions.

"It's based on a really old science called the cocktail party effect," Brock told us. "You know you've been there before. You're at a party, across the room someone says 'Hey Dawn!' They're not even talking about you, but you hear the word Dawn, you turn your head immediately. Hearing your name is definitely going to catch your attention, even when you are asleep."

Kidsmart detectors should be used in conjunction with the traditional alarms. Parents should keep the smoke detectors they already have in their homes in the hall as the first line of defense. Kidsmart alarms should be installed inside the bedroom on the ceiling right by the door.

"We recommend you put the detector here in the doorway with the speaker pointing toward the child in the bed," advised Brock.

The company believes that will greatly increase the child's chance of hearing the alarm and waking up.

Tonight on THE News at 11, we'll show you what happened when we put the Kidsmart vocal smoke detector to the test with the help of a spokesperson from the company.

Reported by: Dawn Baker, dbaker@wtoc.com

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