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The Vocal Smoke Alarm

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October 8, 2006

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October 9, 2006 The SignalONE Safety vocal smoke alarm is the only smoke alarm on the market that allows the appropriate caregiver to record a personalized "wake up and escape" message for their child. We wouldn’t have picked that this was such an important feature off the bat, but apparently there’s a growing body of evidence showing that children do not awaken reliably to the tones found in conventional smoke alarms and the key aspect of the vocal smoke alarm is the use of a familiar voice to awaken a child by name and urge the child to escape a burning home safely. A new study, released last week by the American Academy of Pediatrics, showed that 96 percent of children woke up to the recorded sound of their mothers voice in a median time of 20 seconds, compared to only 58 percent who woke up to conventional smoke alarm tones. We’ve seen a few good ideas in smoke alarms over the years, such as the wireless smoke alarm and the ingenious snap alarm – interestingly, none of their compelling features are mutually exclusive.

A new study, released last week by the American Academy of Pediatrics, showed that 96 percent of children woke up to the recorded sound of their mothers voice in a median time of 20 seconds, compared to only 58 percent who woke up to conventional smoke alarm tones.

More importantly, 86 percent of the children responding to their mother's recorded voice self-escaped in less than three minutes compared to only 38 percent who self-escaped in a median time of five minutes when they were exposed to the conventional alarm tones. Fire experts say the key to surviving a fire is escaping the burning house in three minutes or less. More than 40,000 children are injured in house fires in the United States each year and hundreds are killed.

In speaking of the inability of conventional smoke alarms to awaken children, Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus Children's Hospital and co-author of the study, recently told The Associated Press, "Clearly, the strategy that has been tried and true and used for years ... fails miserably for children." Funding for the study came from a grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety's Division of Emergency Medical Services and the Ohio Emergency Medical Services Board.

The SignalONE Safety vocal smoke alarm is listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), it has received the necessary permits and approvals from state fire marshals around the nation, and the patented technology is specifically included in the latest version of the National Fire Alarm Code.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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