One topic that is rarely mentioned when it comes to hearing loss is how to keep people who have it safe inside their homes. For instance, imagine that a fire starts in your home; if you’re like most people you have smoke alarms to sound a warning so that you and your loved ones can evacuate the home before the fire becomes widespread, and thus deadly. But this time imagine further, and think about 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.

Nearly all smoke detectors (or similar carbon monoxide detectors), including nearly all units accredited and mandated by city and state governments, produce a loud warning tone between the frequencies of 3,000 to 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 kinds of auditory problems. So if you’re among the more than 11 million Americans with hearing loss, there is a good chance that you simply wouldn’t hear your smoke detector even if you were awake.

To remedy this, there are a variety of home safety products that have been designed with the requirements of the hearing impaired in mind. For instance, there are smoke alarms that emit a low-frequency (520 Hz) square wave sound that most hearing-impaired individuals can hear. For people who are completely deaf, or who are unable to hear at all when they take out their hearing aids or turn off their cochlear implants (CIs) during the night, there are alarm systems that combine extremely loud noises, flashing lights, and vibrators that shake your bed to warn you. Many of these systems are designed to be integrated into more extensive home security systems to alert you to burglars or people thumping furiously on your door in the event of an emergency.

To hear other sounds which might signal danger, many hearing-impaired individuals have installed induction loops in their houses to improve the performance of their hearing aids or cochlear implants. These systems are in essence long strands of wire placed in a loop around your living room, kitchen, or bedrooms. These serve to activate the telecoils inside your hearing aid or CI that increase the volume of sound; this can be useful during emergencies.

Not to mention the humble telephone, which all of us often ignore until we need one, but which may become critical in any sort of emergency. The majority of modern 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 incorporate speakerphone systems with high volumes that can be used by the hearing impaired, and more notably, can be voice-activated. These phones would allow you to voice-dial for assistance in an emergency situation. Other companies produce vibrating bracelets that communicate with your mobile phone to wake you up or inform you if you get a call.

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