New research out of the U.S. has found children may respond better to talking smoke alarms than conventional ones, which use a piercing tone.

The study of 24 children found conventional smoke alarms roused about half (58 per cent) of the kids tested; while 96 per cent awoke when they heard an alarm personalized with their parents’ voices.

“We had an alarm go off on our second floor,” said Toronto Fire Captain Stephen Powell.

“The piercing sound woke my wife and I up — there wasn’t an emergency — but all three children were sound asleep. None of them even rose.”

Powell says the human voice, though quiet, is enough to wake children from Stage 4 sleep. It’s not clear why they can tune out the high-pitched beeping.

Experts say more study is needed and there’s no data that says a voice alarm is better at waking up adolescents or adults.

Tone alarms cost about $10. Those that use voice technology range from about $60 to more than $100.