Warning for parents on children and smoke detectors

Some researchers suggest you cannot always rely on smoke detectors' alarm sounds to wake up sleeping children during an emergency.
3:54 | 03/15/17

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Transcript for Warning for parents on children and smoke detectors
Now to a warning for all parents without smoke detectors. They save thousands of lives every year but will they actually wake up your children? ABC's gio Benitez is in Boston. He has an eye-opening experiment for us. Good morning, gio. Reporter: Hey, robin, good morning to you. Listen, firefighters at the Boston fire department are worried about this issue and you should be too, because it turns out that half of all house fires happen in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep, so it's critical that children wake up when they hear that smoke alarm. But will they? We put them to the test. We're inside a Connecticut home with firefighter Travis Golick and want 0 see what will happen. Will smoke alarms wake up the children, Landon, 3 1/2 and Noelle, 1. Our son can usually sleep through everything. Reporter: The mcbrides have an action plan in place and included their 3 1/2-year-old and their son knows to be up and ready to go the moment that alarm goes off. So, you've talked to your son about the smoke alarms. He knows the sound. We have our plan and actually have a fire ladder in our bedroom. And our plan is to obviously get them and get the ladder and get out. Oh, wow. What should every family be thinking about? Making sure your smoke detectors work. The code is to put them in the bedrooms, have them outside the bedrooms and one on every level especially near the stairwell because the smoke rises. It's going to go up the stairwell. Reporter: We rigged up cameras in the kids' room and have a great view using their monitors. Our firefighter brings in a regular smoke alarm and set it off with a smoke device in the hall right outside the kids' rooms with their doors open. I'm nervous. He's not waking up. She's not either. Reporter: When you see that what do you think? That's not good. Because you know what, what makes me think is like would we hear it? Reporter: Next we set off the family's much louder smoke alarm system set off through their phones and found in all the bedroom, hallway and downstairs. Think they'll wake up? I do. Because they're in their room. Reporter: That's right. There are speakers in their rooms. We trigger them and wait. Emergency, emergency. There's smoke. Reporter: 20 seconds later. He is still sleeping. Both of them. I truly thought they were going to wake up. Like truly -- I mean, I'm shocked. Right? Like -- I'm shocked looking at this. Still asleep. That definitely -- I feel -- would have woken me up. I truly thought they would have woken up. Reporter: An unbelievable four minutes later the alarm still blaring and neither wakes up. As a mom and dad, what do you feel when you see this? You know, it just makes you think that you have -- not that you wouldn't react quick but it's kind of like you really got to react the second you hear that because they're not going to hear it. Reporter: And incredibly a new study says 80% of all kids ages 2 to 14 don't wake up when they hear that smoke alarm so really it's up to parents to have a plan ready and to really act as quickly as possible. Yes, especially with young children like that. You're going to have 20 go in and get them when you hear the alarm like that. But for older kids who are expected to be able to get out on their own, is there something in the pipeline, another type of alarm that they perhaps will hear better? Reporter: Well, you know, you heard that voice on the alarm. They're saying, emergency, emergency, fire. Well, now a company is looking at this. Researchers are looking at this to say, will it work better if they use the parents' voices so that might be interesting? Could be. All right, gio, thank you very much. And hopefully when people changed their clocks this past weekend they changed the batteries in smoke alarms. Thank you, gio. Michael.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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