Most of us know that when we moved the clocks ahead one hour last weekend, we were also supposed to change the batteries in the smoke alarms (safety groups recommend doing this twice a year when you spring ahead and fall back). Turns out, those of us with children may also want to consider buying a new type of smoke detector altogether.

I received an email last month with a link to a TV news report in Boston about the failings of traditional smoke detectors. The video shows children, from toddlers to teens, sleeping right through the alarm. Apparently children aren't always awakened by the shrill sound of a conventional smoke alarm.

A smoke alarm that allows parents to add their own voice to the alarm has come on the market in the last few years. The Kidssmart vocal smoke detector, which plays a recorded message when smoke is detected, is $99.95 at amazon.com. Judging by a quick search, the alarm doesn't seem to be widely available at online retailers, and I couldn't find competitors except a company called Signal One, which apparently is no longer in business.

A 2006 study by the American Academy of Pediatricians found that 96% of kids awoke to the sound of their mother's voice on the vocal alarm while only 58% of children were awakened by the conventional smoke alarm tone. Sounds like it's worth considering, although I'm going to keep shopping for a better price. I thought I had found it on overstock.com but they were sold out.


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