One subject that is seldom mentioned when it comes to hearing loss is how to keep those who have suffered it safe inside their homes. Imagine this situation: you’re in your house when a fire breaks out, and like most people nowadays you have smoke detectors to alert you to make sure you and your loved ones can evacuate before the fire becomes life-threatening. But this time imagine further, and consider what might happen if your smoke detector goes off at night after you’ve gone to bed, removing your hearing aid first as you usually do.
Virtually all smoke alarms (or related carbon monoxide detectors), emit a high volume warning tone between the frequencies of 3000 – 4000 Hertz. Although most people can hear these tones easily, these frequencies are among those most affected by age-related hearing loss and other forms of auditory problems. So even if you had been awake, if you are one of the more than 11 million Americans with hearing loss, there is a chance that you wouldn’t hear the alarm.
To remedy this, there are a variety of home safety products that have been re-engineered with the requirements of the hearing impaired in mind. For instance, there are smoke alarms that emit a low-frequency (520 Hertz) square wave sound that a majority of hearing-impaired people can hear. In case you are completely deaf without your hearing aids or when you turn off your cochlear implants (CIs), there are other alarm systems which use a combination of blinking lights, loud alarms, and bed shakers to wake you up. For complete home safety, many of these more modern units have been developed to be integrated into more thorough home protection systems to warn you in case of intruders, or if neighbors are pounding on your doors.
Many who have hearing aids or who wear cochlear implants have elected to extend the performance of these devices by setting up induction loops in their houses. These systems are in essence long strands of wire placed in a loop around your family room, kitchen, or bedrooms. These can activate the telecoils inside your hearing aid or cochlear implant that increase the volume of sound; this can be useful in emergency situations.
And of course there is the humble telephone, which all of us often ignore until we need one, but which can become crucial in any sort of emergency situation. The majority of present day telephones now can be found in models that are hearing aid and CI-compatible, which enable their easy use during either normal or extraordinary conditions. Other phone models integrate speakerphone systems with very high volumes that can be easily used by the hearing impaired, and more importantly, can be voice-activated. These devices would allow you to voice-dial for assistance in an emergency situation. There are other accessories for cellphones, such as vibrating wristbands that will inform you of an incoming phone call even if you are sleeping.
Other safety tips are less technical and more practical, like always having the phone numbers of fire departments, ambulance providers, doctors, and emergency services handy. If we may be of assistance to you in helping to make your house safer for the hearing impaired, call us; we’ll be happy to help.