One aspect of hearing loss which is seldom addressed is the simple decrease in safety of those who have hearing difficulties. Imagine this scenario: you’re at home when a fire begins, and like most of us nowadays you have smoke alarms to alert you to make sure you and your loved ones can evacuate before the fire becomes serious. But this time imagine further, and contemplate what might happen if your smoke alarm goes off in the middle of the night after you’ve gone to sleep, having removed your hearing aid.

Most smoke alarms (or similar carbon monoxide detectors), produce a high volume warning tone between the frequencies of 3000 – 4000 Hertz. Although the majority of people can hear these tones without difficulty, 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 Americans with hearing problems, there’s a good chance that you wouldn’t hear your smoke detector 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 instance, there are smoke alarms that emit a low-frequency (520 Hertz) square wave tone that a majority of hearing-impaired people can hear. For people who are totally deaf, or who cannot hear whatsoever when they take out their hearing aids or turn off their cochlear implants (CIs) at night, there are alert systems that combine extremely loud noises, blinking lights, and vibrators that shake your mattress to warn you. For complete home safety, many of these more modern devices have been designed to be incorporated into more extensive home protection systems to warn you in case of burglars, or if emergency services are pounding on your doors.

Many who have hearing aids or who have CIs have elected to boost the performance of these devices by installing induction loops in their homes. An induction loop is merely a lengthy wire that surrounds your family room, bedroom, or children’s rooms, which activates the telecoils inside your devices to increase the volume of sounds, and therefore may help you not to miss any important or emergency signals.

Not to mention the humble telephone, which many of us tend to ignore until we need one, but which can become critical in any kind of emergency situation. Most modern telephones now can be found in models that are hearing aid and CI-compatible, which allow their easy use during either normal or extraordinary conditions. Plus, there are telephones made for the hearing impaired which include speakerphones that function at high volumes, and which may be voice-activated. These phones allow you to voice-dial for help in an emergency situation, or if you needed assistance of any kind. There are other accessories for cell phones, such as vibrating wristbands that will inform you of an incoming phone call even if you’re sleeping.

Other safety suggestions are less technological and more practical, such as always having the telephone numbers of fire departments, ambulance providers, health care providers, and emergency services handy. If we may be of assistance to you in making your home safer for the hearing impaired, call us; we’ll be very happy to assist.