NewsChannel 11 Investigates Vocal Smoke Detectors - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/24/05

NewsChannel 11 Investigates Vocal Smoke Detectors

It's hard to believe but a home video from our investigation two years ago is proof enough. Kids can sleep through piercing smoke detectors. Even worse, ignore the warnings. In this video, the kids woke up in eight minutes and fire safety experts say if it were a real fire, the kids would be dead.

Remember, you only have seconds to get your kids out of a burning house. "A fire wherever it starts doubles in size every 30 seconds," said Deputy Fire Marshal Garett Nelson.

2/12/03
Get Out Alive: Part One
No one has to tell you a smoke detector in your home could save your life if fire strikes. But what if you knew that you, and particularly your children, could die, even if you have smoke detectors?
2/13/03
Get Out Alive: Part Two
When a fire happens in your house, it's your plan to get out alive, including your children. We told you how important it is to have many smoke detectors in your home. And you're about to see why. This is a story about fire safety you have never seen before. And you believe what happens.

NewsChannel 11 is at it again, but this time, we're testing a voice recorded smoke detector called KidSmart. It's fairly new to the market. Parents can record their voice into the smoke detector and the message will keep repeating itself when there is an actual fire.

Lubbock Deputy Fire Marshal Garett Nelson says researchers want to improve the traditional smoke detector so kids will wake up. "The sound doesn't mean anything to them so their thinking parents voice shouting a command is going to be a voice they can recognize and so they're going to act," said Nelson.

How much has changed in two years? NewsChannel 11 went undercover to investigate this new voice recorded smoke detector and what we found may shock you.

"Do you do any fire drills with your kids?" we asked. "No, we're bad. I know. And we should because our house is a two story," said parents, Kristen and Jeremy Ross. They have three girls, 16-month-old Morgan, 6-year-old Shelby and 12-year-old Leah.

It was midnight, and the girls are going to get a very serious wake up call and so will their parents. The alarm woke up Shelby and Morgan after two minutes. But we were worried about the oldest, Leah.

After four minutes, "Get out of bed, there's a fire!" Leah rolled right over and never woke up. Her Dad put the alarm close to her ear.

Our second family is no stranger to this test. Two years ago, Taylor Fittz was the girl who put a teddy bear over her face and ignored the alarm. Her mother Lisa agreed to help us again. She wanted to see if her daughter would wake up to a voice recorded smoke alarm.

"I think it's a great concept and the fact that they're going to hear my voice. That's how I wake her up in the morning," said Lisa.

Taylor and her friend, Mahghen, were sound asleep at two in the morning. "Taylor get up there's a fire!" said the smoke detector. It went off three times in one minute and the girls bolted out of the bed into the living room. Taylor wouldn't be happy it was only a test, again.

"I didn't know what it was, I just heard something," said Mahghen. "Did you (Taylor) recognize that as your mom's voice?" we asked. "Yes," she answered.

NewsChannel 11 Special Reports
Take a look at the special reports on NewsChannel 11 from the past.

"One thing I was a little concerned about was the beep on the KidSmart. They're probably the same decibel level. But the beep on a regular smoke detector is like a piercing sound. You know, it drives you out," said Nelson.

"I don't think the decibel is loud enough it wake them up," said Jeremy.

"I think it would have to be in their rooms," said Kristen.

"I wish it was a little bit clearer. The recording," said Lisa.

Nelson says children will wake up to any smoke detector only if the parents condition their kids to the sound. "So, it's not about consumer products failing us, it could be that parents need to talk to their kids and teach about fire safety," we asked. "Absolutely. There is no substitute for that," said Nelson.

He says to practice fire drills with your kids once every couple of weeks to once a month. The KidSmart voice detector costs $70.

Making a Kit for an Emergency Situation
When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it's best to think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth.

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