Waking Effectiveness of Household Smoke and Fire Detection Devices. Final Report.
Waking Effectiveness of Household Smoke and Fire
Detection Devices. Final Report.
Nober, E. H.; Peirce, H.; Well, A. D.
NBS GCR 83-439; 92 p. July 1983.
Sponsor:National Bureau of Standards, Gaithersburg, MD
Available from: National Technical Information Service
Order number: PB83-256511
adults; alarm responses; auditory perception; decibal
levels; developmentally disabled; children; elderly
persons; fire departments; human behavior; noise
(sound); sleep; smoke detectors; wakefulness
The present work consists of three experiments.
Experiment A measured the frequency response and
directionality of five typical home smoke alarms. In
experiment B, normal-hearing young adults were subjected
to alarm signals of 85, 70, and 55 dBA while asleep in
their own bedrooms under both low and moderate
background noise levels. Times required to awaken, turn
off the alarm and phone the fire department ranged from
49-115 seconds at 55 dBA to 24-109 sec at 85 dBA with
low background noise. With moderate background noise,
times increased to 45-137 sec for the 55 dBA signal and
36-119 sec for the 70 dBA signal. In experiment C,
subjects included families with and without children,
varying types of housing, elderly, and developmentally
disabled populations. Times required to awaken and
evacuate all subjects in the household were measured.
Mean evacuation times for these groups were 48.5 sec for
the families, 65.8 seconds for the elderly, and 57.9
sec. for the developmentally disabled. The report
concludes that college-aged subjects can be awakened and
alerted with alarm levels as low as 55 dBA (even with
moderate background noise) and that evacuation times for
families, geriatric and developmentally disabled
populations seem to be in a range of one to two minutes.