November is Child Safety Protection Month. As I was researching this important subject, I was surprised to see the number of deaths across North America that are attributed to house fires. According to the National Center for Child Death Review, “the single most important factor in reducing child fire fatalities is the presence in the home of a working smoke detector. Three-fifths of fire fatalities occur in the small percentage of homes (7%) that lack any detectors at all. Although most American homes have at least one smoke alarm in the home, the detectors may not contain good batteries or be in working order”.
One of the most interesting, yet least thought about safety aspects within the home are the innovations in the evolution of smoke detectors and alarms. Smoke alarms have been mandated to be a part of the home’s safety system, and testing monthly and replacing the batteries with the change of seasons is something that is discussed annually with Fire Safety Week. Whether or not this gets done is another subject. All I can say is “do it”! However, have you given any thought as to the effectiveness of the typical smoke alarm signal?
Studies have found that children, the elderly, people under the influence of alcohol or drugs or who are sleep-deprived, have difficulty awakening to the beeping of hallway smoke alarms. These studies have shown that only 46% of children aged 6 to 15 woke reliably to traditional smoke alarm signals. Some manufacturers have reacted to this information and created an alternative to the generally accepted alarm tones. They have developed a detector that allows parents to record a personalized message in their own voice, instructing children to wake up and escape safely during a fire emergency. This human voice alarm was developed in response to documented research showing a familiar voice consistently awakens children from deep sleep. These same studies show that a smoke alarm that used a recorded familiar voice like a mother’s or father’s urging these children to wake up woke 100% of the children in one minute or less. Another benefit is that a familiar voice alarm helped children stay calmer in a traumatic situation. Take a moment and watch this for yourself:
Another simple, yet life saving practice is incorporating a home fire escape plan into your household. Each member of your family should be fully trained in what to do in the event of a fire, and the steps to escape the house safely.
While reviewing safety, it’s a great time to upgrade your home’s receptacles to the now mandated tamper-proof receptacles. According to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), in the United States alone, an average of seven children per day are treated in hospital emergency rooms for electrical shocks and burns due to contact with standard wall receptacles. Tamper resistant receptacles are designed to only allow the simultaneous insertion of an electrical plug into an outlet. If a child (or misguided adult) attempts to insert an object such as a small screwdriver or a paper clip into just one of the slots, the mechanism inside will physically prevent this from happening, avoiding a potentially harmful electrical shock.
While you’re at it, take into consideration all the necessary safety precautions and devices available to prevent small children from climbing up and pushing out the screens on upper floor windows. Common sense goes a long way here. Protecting our children is our responsibility and should be taken very seriously. No one should have to endure the pain of causing harm to or losing a child, especially if the cause was preventable.
All of the products discussed in today’s post can be purchased safely and securely online through Amazon: