One topic that is seldom mentioned with regards to hearing loss is how to keep people who have suffered it safe inside their own homes. Picture this situation: you’re at home and a fire begins, and like most of us today you have smoke alarms to alert you so that you and your family can safely evacuate before the fire becomes life-threatening. But this time imagine further, and consider 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.
The smoke detectors standard in most houses and those mandated by city and local governments produce a loud warning sound at a frequency between 3,000 and 4,000 Hz. This is fine for most people, but unfortunately these frequencies are among those most vulnerable to age-related hearing loss, so older adults or people who have suffered other forms of hearing impairment cannot hear them. So if you’re one of the more than eleven million people in America with hearing problems, there’s a good chance that you 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 needs of the hearing impaired in mind. For people with slight to moderate hearing loss, there are smoke detectors that emit a 520 Hz square-wave warning sound that they can usually hear. In case you are fully deaf without your hearing aid or when you turn off your cochlear implants (CIs), you’ll find alert systems that use a combination of blinking lights, very loud alarms, and bed shakers to wake you up. For comprehensive home safety, many of these more modern units have been developed to be easily integrated into more extensive 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 have cochlear implants have elected to boost the efficiency of these devices by setting up induction loops in their homes. An induction loop is merely a long wire that encircles your family room, bedroom, or children’s rooms, which activates the telecoils inside your hearing assistance devices to raise the volume of sounds, and therefore may help you not to miss any important or emergency announcements.
Not to mention the lowly telephone, which all of us often ignore until we need one, but which can become crucial in any sort of emergency situation. Most present day phones now can be found in models that are hearing aid and CI-compatible, which allow their easy use during either normal or extraordinary conditions. Other phone models incorporate speakerphone systems with high volumes that can be used by the hearing impaired, and more importantly, can be voice-activated. These devices would allow you to voice-dial for assistance in an emergency situation, or if you needed assistance of any kind. Other companies make vibrating wristbands that interact with your mobile phone to awaken you or notify you if you get a call.
Other safety suggestions are less technological and more practical, such as always keeping the phone numbers of fire departments, ambulance companies, health care providers, and emergency services handy. We are as serious about your safety as we are about your hearing, so if we can be of service with any additional tips or suggestions, feel free to call us.