One topic which is rarely discussed when it comes to hearing loss is how to keep those who have it safe in their homes. Imagine this situation: you’re in your house and a fire breaks out, and like most people today you have smoke detectors to warn you to make sure you and your loved ones can safely evacuate before the fire becomes life-threatening. But now imagine further, and consider what might happen if your smoke detector goes off in the middle of the night after you’ve gone to bed, having removed your hearing aid.
Nearly all smoke detectors (or similar carbon monoxide detectors), including nearly all units approved and mandated by city and state governments, produce a high volume warning tone between the frequencies of 3000 – 4000 Hertz. And while most people can hear these sounds without difficulty, these frequencies are among those most affected by age-related hearing loss and other kinds of auditory impairment. So if you’re among the more than 11 million people in America with hearing problems, there’s a possibility 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 designed with the needs of the hearing impaired in mind.
For those with slight to moderate hearing loss, there are smoke detectors that emit a 520 Hertz square-wave warning tone that they can usually hear. In case you are completely deaf without your hearing aids or when you turn off your cochlear implants (CIs), you’ll find alert systems that use a mix of flashing lights, loud alarms, and vibrating units that shake your bed to wake you up. Many of these systems are designed to be incorporated into more complete home security systems to warn you of burglars or people thumping furiously on your door in the event of an emergency.
Many who have hearing aids or who have cochlear implants have chosen to extend the efficiency of these devices by setting up induction loops in their houses. An induction loop is merely a lengthy wire that surrounds your living room, bedroom, or children’s rooms, which activates the telecoils embedded in your hearing assistance devices to increase the volume of sounds, and thus may help you not to miss any important or emergency notifications.
We shouldn’t forget the common telephone, which is indispensable during an emergency of any sort. Fortunately, many contemporary mobile and residential phones are now telecoil-compatible, to allow their use by individuals wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants. Plus, there are telephones made for the hearing impaired which incorporate speakerphones that function at high volumes, and which can be voice-activated. So if you fell and hurt yourself out of reach of the telephone, you could still voice-dial for assistance. There are additional accessories for mobile phones, such as vibrating wristbands that will inform you of an incoming telephone call even if you are asleep.
Naturally, some home safety suggestions for the hearing impaired are the same as for those who can hear well, such as trying to keep 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 tips or recommendations, feel free to call us.