One aspect of hearing loss that is not often discussed is the basic decrease in safety of people who have hearing difficulties. Imagine this scenario: you’re at home and a fire breaks out, and like most people today you have smoke detectors installed to warn you so that you and your family can safely evacuate before the fire becomes serious. But this time imagine that the fire breaks out at night, when you’re sleeping, and you’ve removed your hearing aids.

The smoke alarms standard in almost all homes and those required by city or state governments produce a loud warning sound at a frequency between 3,000 and 4,000 Hz. 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 if you’re among the more than 11 million people in America with hearing problems, there is a possibility that you wouldn’t hear your smoke alarm even if you were awake.

To correct this, there are a number of home safety products that have been designed with the needs of the hearing impaired in mind. For those with slight to moderate hearing loss, there are smoke alarms that emit a 520 Hertz square-wave warning sound that they can generally hear. In case you are completely deaf without your hearing aid or when you turn off your cochlear implants (CIs), you’ll find alert systems which use a combination of blinking lights, very loud alarms, and bed shakers to wake you up. Many of these methods are intended to be integrated into more extensive home security systems to alert you to intruders or neighbors thumping madly on your door in the event of an emergency.

To hear other sounds which might signal danger, many hearing-impaired people have set up induction loops in their houses to improve the performance of their hearing aids or CIs. These systems are basically long strands of wire positioned in a loop around your family room, kitchen, or bedrooms. These can activate the telecoils embedded in your hearing aid or CI that raise the volume of sound; this can be useful during emergency situations.

Not to mention the lowly telephone, which many of us often ignore until we need one, but which can become critical in any kind 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 use during either normal or extraordinary conditions. Other telephone models integrate speakerphone systems with high volumes that can be used by the hearing impaired, and more notably, can be voice-activated. So if you were to fall and hurt yourself away from the telephone, you could still voice-dial for help. Other manufacturers make vibrating bracelets that interact with your cellphone to wake you up or advise you if you get a call.

Obviously, some home safety tips for the hearing impaired are the same as for those who can hear well, such as keeping lists of your doctors, emergency service providers, and hospitals close at hand. We are as concerned about your safety as we are about your hearing, so if we can be of assistance with any additional ideas or recommendations, feel free to give us a call.

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