Get Out Alive: Will Fire Alarms Wake Up Your Children During House Fire?

Tuesday, November 11th 2014, 10:00 am
By: News 9

We all know how important smoke alarms are. But are you certain one will wake your children if your home is on fire?

This is the time of the year firefighters respond to a lot of overnight home fires. We secretly set up our cameras in a bedroom where children were sleeping, then we set off the alarm.

Be prepared to be startled.

It is the battle cry of firefighters. Smoke alarms can get your family out alive.

When Kaisa Wallis tucks her children in at night, they sleep upstairs, and she heads downstairs confident they're protected with a smoke alarm. But will it wake her children? Kaisa and her husband Clint invited us into their home to find out.

The couple has four children. Cam is the oldest. On this night he's still up from a ballgame. But Ian, Thatcher and Elle were all asleep in the same bedroom.

We tip-toed in, kept the light low and set up three cameras. Fire safety expert Jon Hansen was out in the hall to set the alarm off. I had a stopwatch, and Kaisa and Clint were with us to watch what happens.

One minute -- and the kids haven't budged. Two minutes -- to the rest of us in the bedroom, the alarm in the hall was blaring, but the children weren't budging.

Finally, three minutes later, the kids were still asleep. Our fire expert walked into the bedroom with the alarm. Only then did the kids move.

Five-year-old Elle was awake in 25 seconds, and 9-year-old Ian woke up within a minute. Incredibly, their brother on the top bunk never woke up.

Sleep experts say children spend more time than adults in the deepest parts of sleep, underscoring why we shouldn't rely just on a hallway alarm. Children need alarms in the bedroom, the one room in the house where most children perish.

“We'll either find them in their bed or if something does wake them up, they'll take a breath of toxic gas and they'll fall right down somewhere in the bedroom," Hansen said.

Tragically, that was the fate of four Oklahoma children who died in a house fire. No smoke alarms,and no hope the morning after Christmas.

12/26/2012 Related Story: OKC Police Identify Children, Mother Who Died In Accidental Fire

"It's a wakeup call for parents. Literally. It's very frightening," Hansen said.

There's a lot of love in this house. Just like you, Clint and Kaisa are fierce about protecting their children. We appreciate them letting us in to help your kids get out alive.

Firefighters also recommend alarms with a woman's voice for children.

Wednesday morning, we will focus on holiday hazards. See how easy it is for Christmas trees to burn. Also, firefighters call it facing the beast. We'll go inside a fire chamber so you can experience a fire flashover.