False Alarm: Would your kids sleep through a smoke detector? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

False Alarm: Would your kids sleep through a smoke detector?

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It's a typical weeknight at the Dark House.

Going over some homework and burning up that last bit of energy.

Like most families – the Dark's have a routine in place.

But KWWL showed up to throw a wrench in that nightly routine.

Like most families, the Dark's have smoke detectors everywhere they are supposed to – living area, hallways, in every bedroom.

The smoke detectors are THERE. But they've been silent. That will change on this night.

Before we went to the Dark house, we stopped by the Cedar Falls Fire Department to talk with Chief John Schilling. If a smoke detector went off, is it possible a child would sleep right through it?

"The standard smoke detector is 85 decibels alarm clock being 2 feet away from you. Kids have a tendency of sleeping thru alarm clocks," said Schilling.

Back at the Dark house, our experiment is just about under way – our crew sets up night vision cameras in the kids' bedrooms…so we have eyes in there when we set off the smoke detectors.

Back downstairs, I'm talking with Mike & Angie about their PLAN.

"As a parent, you hear about fires in others homes and you say, oh I would do this, but if a fire came upstairs, no plan is in place so that is a concern," said Angie Dark.

In their home, these stairs, are the only way down – possibly – the only way out.

45 minutes after the kids go to bed, it's time.

Both kids are fast asleep.

A few seconds after the smoke detector sounds off, you can see it startles Landon…to the point of upsetting him.

Take a look across the hall inside Reese's bedroom…a few seconds after the alarm goes off…she sits up…covers her ears…she looks around…but she doesn't move…and the seconds continue tick by.

It may sound cliche but EVERY SECOND COUNTS.

It only takes 30 seconds for a small flame, to become an out-of-control fire.

Reese hears her brother in the hallway – and gets out of her room.

35 seconds.

"Are you surprised it took them 35 seconds? To be honest, I'm surprised they woke up. They sleep pretty hard. Do you think if this happened in the middle of the night they would have been in a deeper sleep? Absolutely I do. All of the lights would have been off – we wouldn't have been right here waiting for them," said Angie.

The kids are up – but do they know what to do…where to go?

Landon's answer – is chilling.

"Landon, do you know where to go when you hear a smoke detector go off? To the basement. And get down like this and cover my head."

A tornado drill. Something kids here in Eastern Iowa learn over and over in school. But now Landon has the two confused. That could be a deadly difference – running to the basement instead of outside.

I can admit this - my household is parallel to the Darks – the smoke detectors are there – but there is no plan in place.

30 seconds. 30 seconds for a small fire to become out of control and engulf your home.

These kids were out of bed in 35 seconds.

Chief John Schilling wants every family to remember one name: EDITH.


Make a plan tonight.

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