I-Team: Cause for alarm

Published: May. 7, 2015 at 5:11 PM CDT|Updated: May. 8, 2015 at 2:36 AM CDT
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What if tonight after you and your family go to sleep your house catches on fire?

Do you just assume your children will hear the smoke detectors, and run to safety?

Might want to think again.

According to a study in the Journal of Fire and Materials, less than one third of children ages five to 15 will wake up to home smoke alarms.

As Gretchen and Brian Probst tuck in their three girls at night, they certainly hope their smoke detectors will wake the children and get them moving if there is an emergency.

"There's a partial chance they might wake up and not know what's going on," said Brian Probst.

The plan is to put the smoke alarm to the test as the girls ages three to eight are fast asleep.

We ran the same scenario in Chaffee.

We wanted to see what happened after 9-year-old Jacob and 6-year-old Leah Vandeven went to bed.

"That's my biggest fear, that they wouldn't get up," said Jennifer Vandeven.

Mom and Dad were pretty sure little Leah would come running down the hall, so we put a camera in Jacob's room to see if he'd sleep through it.

We set off the first alarm, and one minute rise out of either child.

We tried it again....nothing.

We then tried out a newer, sleeker model.

Again we watched and listened as there was a full minute of ear piercing beeping right outside their rooms.

Once again, no movement from Jacob or Leah.

We decided to try one more time.

This time, we used a hard-to-find vocal smoke alarm where Jennifer recorded her voice.

It sounded for one minute, but neither child made a sound.

"I did think Leah would wake up. I thought it would take a little bit, but I thought she would eventually," said Jennifer Vandeven.

Back at the Probst house, it's after midnight.

The girls are fast asleep.

We set off the first alarm, and no one got out of bed.

"I thought this is really loud," said Gretchen Probst. "Why aren't they waking up?"

We set off the second alarm, and in the video you can see 5-year-old Heidi, and 3-year-old Lexi sit up in bed.

"I got up both times (and thought) what was that," said Heidi Probst.

Dad entered the room, and the kids weren't real pleased.

"I just wanted to go back to bed, I was tired," said 8-year-old Cadence Probst.

"If something happened to us, I don't know for sure what would have happened," said Brian Probst.

Since the first of February five people, including two children have died in house fires in Poplar Bluff.

"This has been the toughest year I've had in awhile," said David Dudley, Battalion Chief with the Poplar Bluff Fire Department.

"Nothing prepares you for that when it involves children," said Captain Steven Burkhead with the Poplar Bluff Fire Department.

We know in one of the homes, there weren't any working smoke detectors.

But, would those have been enough?

"We hope it will wake everyone up," said Captain Burkhead.

"A smoke detector is not enough," said Battalion Chief Dudley.

It leaves the Vandeven and Probst families with the question...what now?

"Probably ought to upgrade the system possibly, I don't know what to do...hopefully we would hear it," said Jeremy Vandeven.

Firefighters say every family should work on exit drills.

"We encourage families to make it a monthly drill so it's fresh in their minds," said Captain Burkhead.

Now, these children say they know exactly what to do if they wake up.

"Probably go in mom and dad's room and find them," said Leah Vandeven.

"I would make sure my sisters were with me and go out the door with them, and make sure they aren't hurt," said Cadence Probst.

These families suggest you try this at your own home.

"We saw it firsthand, they didn't hear them so better safe than sorry," said Jeremy Vandeven.

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