One subject which is rarely mentioned with regards to hearing loss is how to keep those who have suffered it safe in their homes. For instance, imagine that a fire starts in your home; if you are like most of us you have smoke detectors to sound an alert so that you and your family can evacuate the home before a fire spreads too far and traps you. But this time imagine further, and ponder what might happen if your smoke alarm goes off at night after you’ve gone to sleep, having removed your hearing aid.
The smoke alarms common in most homes and those required by city and local governments emit a loud warning tone at a frequency between 3,000 and 4,000 Hz. Although the majority of people can hear these tones easily, these frequencies are among those most impacted by age-related hearing loss and other forms of auditory problems. So if you are among the more than eleven million Americans with hearing loss, there’s a good chance that you simply wouldn’t hear your smoke alarm even if you were awake.
Luckily, there are home safety products which are specifically created for the requirements of the hearing impaired. For example, there are smoke detectors that emit a low-frequency (520 Hz) square wave tone that a majority of hearing-impaired people 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, there are alert systems that combine extremely loud alarms, blinking lights, and vibrators that shake your bed to warn you. Many of these systems are intended to be incorporated into more extensive home security systems to alert you to burglars or neighbors pounding madly on your door in the case of an emergency.
To hear other sounds that may indicate danger, many hearing-impaired people have installed induction loops in their homes to improve the performance of their hearing aids or cochlear implants. An induction loop is merely a lengthy wire that surrounds your family room, bedroom, or children’s rooms, which activates the telecoils embedded in your devices to increase the volume of sounds, and thus can help you not to miss any important or emergency notifications.
We should not forget the basic telephone, which is indispensable in an emergency of any kind. The majority of present day telephones now can be found in models that are hearing aid and CI-compatible, which permit their use during either normal or extraordinary conditions. Plus, there are phones specifically designed for the hearing impaired which incorporate speakerphones that function at high volumes, and which may be voice-activated. These devices allow you to voice-dial for assistance in an emergency situation, or if you needed assistance of any kind. There are other accessories for mobile phones, such as vibrating wristbands that can inform you of an incoming call even if you’re sleeping.
Obviously, some home safety suggestions for the hearing impaired are the same as for people who can hear well, such as always keeping lists of your health care providers, emergency service providers, and hospitals close by. If we can be of assistance to you in helping to make your home safer for the hearing impaired, give us a call; we’ll be very happy to assist.