One subject which is seldom discussed when it comes to hearing loss is how to keep those who have it safe in their own homes. For instance, suppose that a fire breaks out in your home; if you’re like most of us you have smoke detectors to sound a warning so that you and your family can evacuate the premises before a fire spreads too far and traps you. But now imagine that this fire breaks out during the night, when you’re asleep, and you’ve taken off your hearing aid.

The smoke detectors common in almost all homes and those required by city or state governments emit a very loud warning sound at a frequency between 3,000 and 4,000 Hertz. Although most people can hear these tones easily, these frequencies are among those most affected by age-related hearing loss and other kinds of auditory impairment. So even if you had been awake, if you are among the more than 11 million people in America with hearing loss, there’s a chance that you would not hear the alarm.

Fortunately, there are home safety products which are specifically designed for the requirements of the hearing impaired. For instance, there are smoke alarms that emit a low-frequency (520 Hz) square wave sound that a majority of hearing-impaired individuals can hear. For those who are completely deaf, or who cannot hear whatsoever when they take out their hearing aids or turn off their cochlear implants (CIs) at night when they go to bed, there are alert systems that combine extremely loud noises, flashing lights, and vibrators that shake your bed. For comprehensive home safety, many of these more modern units have been designed to be incorporated into more thorough home protection systems to alert you in case of intruders, or if emergency services are pounding on your doors.

Many who have hearing aids or who wear CIs have elected to extend the performance of these devices by setting up induction loops in their homes. These systems are in essence long wires positioned in a loop around your family room, kitchen, or bedrooms. These can activate the telecoils embedded in your hearing aid or cochlear implant that increase the volume of sound; this can be useful during emergencies.

We shouldn’t ignore the common telephone, which is indispensable in an emergency of any sort. Fortunately, many modern mobile and residential phones are now telecoil-compatible, to allow their use by those wearing hearing aids or CIs. Other phone models incorporate speakerphone systems with very high volumes that can be easily used by the hearing impaired, and more importantly, can be voice-activated. These devices allow you to voice-dial for help in an emergency situation, or if you needed assistance of any kind. There are additional accessories for cell phones, such as vibrating wristbands that will inform you of an incoming phone call even if you are asleep.

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