As a result,
NFPA updated its fact sheet entitled `Home Fire Escape Planning and
Practice'. It includes: "Allow children to master fire escape planning and
practice before holding a fire drill at night when they are sleeping. The
objective is to practice, not to frighten, so telling children there will be
a drill before they go to bed can be as effective as a surprise drill. If
children or others do not readily waken to the sound of the smoke alarm, or
if there are infants or family members with mobility limitations, make sure
that someone is assigned to assist them in a fire drill."
The majority of
fatal fires in Ontario occur at night in people's homes. This is
incorporated in the Ontario Fire Code: "Smoke alarms shall be installed
between each sleeping area and the remainder of the dwelling area, and where
the sleeping areas are served by hallways, the smoke alarms shall be
installed in the hallways." In Ontario, an
experiment was conducted in 2002 by Fire Prevention
Officer Derrick Ethridge from Loyalist Township Emergency Services to see if
a group of local grade six children could hear the smoke alarm when they
All 84 children
were exposed to two separate smoke alarm tests between 9pm and 11pm while
sleeping. From these tests, 53% of the
children tested did not react in less than one minute. This included 31% of
children who did not respond at all. Other research includes an Australian study that showed children under age
15 were likely to sleep through smoke alarms. The reasons why
children don't hear or react to a smoke alarm may vary. Parents won't know
how their children will react to the smoke alarm until they test their
responses. Children's safety is the responsibility of the caregiver.
Planning and practicing a home escape plan is essential, along with working
smoke alarms on every level and outside all sleeping areas.
NOTE: This issue
does not only affect children but also other adults.