One aspect of hearing loss that is not often addressed is the basic decrease in safety of those who have experienced it. For instance, suppose that a fire starts in your home; if you are like most people you have smoke detectors to sound an alert so that you and your loved ones can evacuate the house before a fire becomes widespread, and thus deadly. But this time suppose that the fire breaks out during the night, when you’re asleep, and you’ve removed your hearing aids.

Virtually all smoke alarms (or similar carbon monoxide detectors), including nearly all devices approved and mandated by city and state governments, produce a loud warning tone between the frequencies of 3,000 to 4,000 Hertz. Although most people can hear these sounds easily, these frequencies are among those most affected by age-related hearing loss and other kinds of auditory impairment. So if you’re one of the more than 11 million Americans with hearing problems, there is a good chance that you simply wouldn’t hear your smoke alarm even if you were awake.

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 detectors that emit a low-frequency (520 Hertz) square wave sound that most hearing-impaired people can hear. For those who are totally deaf, or who are unable to hear at all when they remove their hearing aids or turn off their cochlear implants (CIs) at night, there are alert systems that blend exceedingly loud alarms, flashing lights, and vibrators that shake your bed to warn you. For comprehensive home safety, a number of these newer devices have been designed to be easily integrated into more extensive home protection systems to warn you in case of burglars, or if neighbors are beating on your doors.

Many who have hearing aids or who wear cochlear implants have elected to improve the performance of these devices by setting up induction loops in their houses. These systems are in essence long strands of wire positioned in a loop around your family room, kitchen, or bedrooms. These can activate the telecoils inside your hearing aid or cochlear implant that raise the volume of sound; this can be useful in emergency situations.

We must not forget the common telephone, which is vital in an emergency of any kind. Fortunately, a number of contemporary mobile and home phones are now telecoil-compatible, to permit their use by those wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants. Other models integrate speakerphone systems with very high volumes that can be used by the hearing impaired, and more importantly, can be voice-activated. So if you were to fall and hurt yourself away from the telephone, you could still voice-dial for assistance. There are additional accessories for mobile phones, such as vibrating wristbands that can alert you to an incoming telephone call even if you’re sleeping.

Other safety recommendations are less technological and more practical, such as always keeping the phone numbers of fire departments, ambulance providers, doctors, and emergency services handy. If we can be of assistance to you in helping to make your home safer for the hearing impaired, give us a call; we’ll be happy to help.