One topic that is seldom mentioned when it comes to hearing loss is how to keep people who have it safe in their homes. For instance, imagine that a fire breaks out in your house; if you’re like most of us you have smoke alarms to sound an alert so that you and your loved ones can evacuate the premises before the fire becomes widespread, and thus deadly. But now imagine that this fire begins at night, when you’re sleeping, and you’ve taken off your hearing aids.
The smoke alarms standard in most houses and those required by city and local governments emit a loud warning sound at a frequency between 3000 to 4000 Hz. Although the majority of people can hear these sounds without difficulty, these frequencies are among those most affected by age-related hearing loss and other forms of auditory impairment. So if you’re among the more than eleven million people in America with hearing problems, there’s a possibility that you simply would not hear your smoke detector even if you were awake.
Fortunately, there are home safety products that are expressly designed for the requirements of the hearing impaired. For example, 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 totally deaf, or who cannot 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 blend exceedingly loud noises, blinking lights, and vibrators that shake your bed to warn you. For complete home safety, many of these more modern units have been designed to be integrated into more extensive home protection systems to warn you in case of burglars, or if emergency services are beating on your doors.
Many who have hearing aids or who have CIs have chosen to extend the efficiency of these devices by putting in induction loops in their homes. An induction loop is merely a long strand of wire that surrounds your family room, bedroom, or children’s rooms, which activates the telecoils inside your devices to increase the volume of sounds, and thus can help you not to miss any important or emergency signals.
And of course there is the humble telephone, which all of us tend to ignore until we need one, but which can become crucial in any sort of emergency situation. Fortunately, a number of contemporary mobile and home phones are now telecoil-compatible, to permit their use by those wearing hearing aids or CIs. Moreover, there are phones specifically designed for the hearing impaired which incorporate speakerphones that function at high volumes, and which may be voice-activated. These phones allow you to voice-dial for help in an emergency situation, or if you needed assistance of any kind. There are other accessories for cell phones, such as vibrating wristbands that can inform you of an incoming telephone call even if you’re sleeping.
Obviously, some home safety suggestions for the hearing impaired are the exact same as for those who can hear well, such as always keeping lists of your health care providers, emergency service providers, and hospitals close at hand. If we may be of assistance to you in helping to make your home safer for the hearing impaired, call us; we’ll be happy to help.