The smoke detector test: Is your family at risk?

The fall and winter months not only bring colder temperatures, but a greater risk of house fires and one of the first lines of defense that’s supposed to protect your family may not even be heard when it matters most.

Deb Thompson let us put her only smoke detector to the test. We wanted to see if her two daughters, ages 9 and 10 would wake up.

We put a camera inside the girl’s bedroom. At first, with the alarm blaring, both kept sleeping.

“That scares me,” Thompson said. 45 seconds in, our cameras caught the girls moving in their beds, but they go back to sleep.

“That’s way too much time. Way too much time,” Thompson said.

Almost two minutes goes by without either child waking up. Typically, families have only have two minutes or less to get out during a real fire.

“It totally shocks me. I totally didn’t expect that at all,” Thompson told Local 6.

Ten-year-old Skylar finally wakes up 2 minutes and 40 seconds after our experiment started, her sister Savana follows just seconds later.

“Did you not hear the fire alarm? Why didn’t you get up? You wasn’t sure?” Thompson asked her daughter.

Mayfield Fire Chief Randy Henson said our experiment demonstrates parents need to have these dry-runs with their kids. “It’s great to start them off young. They start then, they will remember it the rest of their life,” Henson told Local 6.

In March 2012, Mayfield’s former fire chief’s daughter and her boyfriend died in this house fire. There were no working smoke detectors even though neighbors urged the couple to install them.

“I had to call the chief and inform him and then I had to meet the dad in the street. It’s tough on us whether it’s children or an adult,” he said.

At the Thompson home, I asked the kids if they even heard the alarms. “I thought it was in my dreams,” Sylar said. Savana gave another answer. “I heard it, but I thought it was coming from the tv or something,” he said.

Thompson said this is a lesson learned. “I think we are definitely going to do this more often. Parents kind of brush it off, no more,” she said.

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