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Towards a Better Smoke Alarm Signal - An Evidence Based Approach

Thomas, Ian and Bruck, Dorothy (2008) Towards a Better Smoke Alarm Signal - An Evidence Based Approach. Fire Safety Science : proceedings of the ninth international symposium, 9. pp. 403-414. ISSN 1817-4299

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This paper focuses on experimental findings on the waking effectiveness of different auditory signals in children, deep sleeping young adults, older adults, the hard of hearing and the alcohol impaired. Wherever possible, data is graphically presented in terms of the percentage sleeping through different sounds at 75 dBA. It includes previously unpublished data comparing the waking effectiveness of various signals in young adults who were either sober or moderately impaired with alcohol. A summary of the evidence concerning the best and worst signal shows that the 520 Hz square wave signal is at least 4 to 12 times more effective than the current high pitched signal in the populations tested. Research supporting lower frequency signals and mixed frequency signals as being the best alarms for people when awake is also discussed. It is argued that the 520 Hz square wave signal, which has been tested now in six different experimental studies, has a sufficient evidence base to warrant the recommendation for its widespread introduction as a new smoke alarm signal for the whole population. Not improving the alarm signal is likely to result in fatalities and injuries that may have been avoidable.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

Ninth International Symposium on Fire Safety Science was held at the University of Karlsruhe 21-26, September 2008

Uncontrolled Keywords: ResPubID15666, alarms, smoke detectors, sleep, human behaviour in fire, auditory arousal, response patterns
Subjects: Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Centre for Environmental Safety and Risk Engineering (CESARE)
Historical > SEO Classification > 8799 Other Construction
Current > FOR Classification > 0915 Interdisciplinary Engineering
Depositing User: VUIR
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2013 07:01
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2020 03:01
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Citations in Scopus: 7 - View on Scopus

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