Study Finds Smoke Alarms May Not Be Effective in Waking Elderly


A recent study published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) of Quincy, Mass., found that older Americans, 65 and older, might not fully benefit from conventional smoke alarm systems. Of particular concern, according to the study, is the time when seniors are asleep.

The NFPA study reveals that older Americans are twice as likely to perish in a home fire as the average person.

The study, conducted in 2005 by the Fire Protection Research Foundation, tested and assessed a variety of promising technologies that could impact the effectiveness of fire alarm and signaling systems to awaken older people during a fire situation. The U.S. Fire Administration’s Fire Prevention and Safety grants program underwrote the study.

The study concludes that the high-frequency alarm signal so typical of today’s smoke alarms may not be as effective at waking older people. Research continues into what type of alarm warning might be the most effective for this application.

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