One aspect of hearing loss that is not often addressed is the simple decrease in safety of people who have hearing difficulties. Picture this scenario: you’re at home and a fire breaks out, and like most of us nowadays you have smoke alarms installed to warn you so that you and your family can evacuate before the fire becomes serious. But now suppose that the fire begins at night, when you are sleeping, and you’ve removed your hearing aids.

The smoke alarms standard in most homes and those required by city and local governments produce a very loud warning tone at a frequency between 3000 to 4000 Hz. Although the majority of people can hear these sounds easily, these frequencies are among those most affected by age-related hearing loss and other forms of auditory problems. So if you are among the more than eleven million Americans with hearing problems, there is a good chance that you simply wouldn’t hear your smoke alarm even if you were awake.

Fortunately, there are home safety products which are specifically designed for the requirements of the hearing impaired. For people with mild to moderate hearing loss, there are smoke detectors that emit a 520 Hz square-wave warning sound that they can usually hear. For those who are totally deaf, or who cannot hear at all when they take out their hearing aids or turn off their cochlear implants (CIs) at night when they go to bed, there are alert systems that blend exceedingly loud alarms, flashing lights, and vibrators that shake your mattress. Several of these methods are designed to be integrated into more extensive home security systems to alert you to intruders or people thumping furiously on your door in the case of an emergency.

Many who have hearing aids or who wear cochlear implants have chosen to improve the efficiency of these devices by installing induction loops in their houses. An induction loop is merely a lengthy strand of wire that encircles your living room, bedroom, or children’s rooms, which activates the telecoils inside your devices to increase the volume of sounds, and therefore can help you not to miss any important or emergency notifications.

And of course there is the humble telephone, which many of us often ignore until we need one, but which can become critical in any sort of emergency. Fortunately, a number of contemporary mobile and home telephones are now telecoil-compatible, to allow their use by individuals wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants. Other phone models integrate speakerphone systems with very high volumes that can be easily used by the hearing impaired, and more importantly, can be voice-activated. These phones would allow you to voice-dial for help in an emergency situation. There are additional accessories for cell phones, such as vibrating wristbands that will inform you of an incoming call even if you are sleeping.

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

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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