One subject that is seldom discussed when it comes to hearing loss is how to keep people who have suffered it safe inside their own homes. For instance, suppose that a fire breaks out in your home; if you’re like most of us you have smoke detectors to sound an alert so that you and your family can evacuate the house before the fire becomes widespread, and thus deadly. But now imagine that this fire begins at night, when you are sleeping, and you have taken off your hearing aids.
Most smoke alarms (or similar carbon monoxide detectors), including almost all devices approved and mandated by city and state governments, produce a loud warning tone between the frequencies of 3,000 to 4,000 Hz. And while most people can hear these tones without difficulty, these frequencies are among those most affected by age-related hearing loss and other kinds of auditory impairment. So even if you had been awake, if you are among the more than 11 million people in America with hearing loss, there’s a possibility that you wouldn’t hear the alarm.
To remedy this, there are a number of home safety products that have been re-engineered with the requirements of the hearing impaired in mind. For example, there are smoke alarms that emit a low-frequency (520 Hz) square wave tone that most hearing-impaired individuals can hear. For those who are totally deaf, or who are unable to hear whatsoever when they take out their hearing aids or turn off their cochlear implants (CIs) at night when they go to bed, there are alarm systems that combine exceedingly loud noises, blinking lights, and vibrators that shake your mattress to warn you. For complete home safety, many of these more modern units have been designed to be easily incorporated into more extensive home protection systems to warn you in case of burglars, or if emergency services are pounding on your doors.
To hear other sounds that may indicate danger, many hearing-impaired individuals have set up induction loops in their homes for boosting the efficiency of their hearing aids or cochlear implants. These systems are basically long strands of wire placed in a loop around your living room, kitchen, or bedrooms. These can activate the telecoils inside your hearing aid or CI that raise the volume of sound; this can be very helpful in emergency situations.
Not to mention the humble telephone, which many of us often ignore until we need one, but which may become crucial in any sort of emergency. Fortunately, a number of contemporary mobile and residential phones are now telecoil-compatible, to permit their use by those wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants. Moreover, there are phones made for the hearing impaired which include speakerphones that function at high volumes, and which may be voice-activated. These devices would allow you to voice-dial for assistance in an emergency situation. Other companies make vibrating wristbands that interact with your cell phone to wake you up or inform you if you get a telephone call.
Other safety suggestions are less technological and more practical, such as always keeping the phone numbers of fire departments, ambulance companies, doctors, and emergency services handy. We are as concerned about your safety as we are about your hearing, so if we can be of service with any additional ideas or suggestions, feel free to give us a call.