One aspect of hearing loss which is not often discussed is the simple decrease in safety of those who have experienced it. For instance, imagine that a fire breaks out in your home; if you are like most people you have smoke detectors to sound a warning so that you and your loved ones can evacuate the premises before a fire becomes widespread, and thus deadly. But now imagine further, and contemplate what would happen if your smoke alarm goes off at night after you’ve gone to bed, removing your hearing aid first as you usually do.
The smoke alarms standard in most homes and those mandated by city or state governments emit a loud warning tone at a frequency between 3000 to 4000 Hertz. And while 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 impairment. So even if you had been awake, if you’re among the more than 11 million people in America with hearing loss, there is a chance that you would not hear the alarm.
To correct this, there are a variety of home safety products that have been re-engineered with the requirements of the hearing impaired in mind. For instance, there are smoke alarms that emit a low-frequency (520 Hertz) square wave tone that most hearing-impaired people can hear. For those who are completely deaf, or who cannot hear at all when they remove their hearing aids or turn off their cochlear implants (CIs) during the night when they go to bed, there are alarm systems that combine exceedingly loud alarms, flashing lights, and vibrators that shake your bed. For comprehensive home safety, a number of these newer devices have been developed to be integrated into more thorough home protection systems to warn you in case of burglars, or if neighbors are pounding on your doors.
Many who have hearing aids or who have cochlear implants have chosen to boost the performance of these devices by putting in induction loops in their homes. These systems are in essence long strands of wire positioned in a loop around your living room, kitchen, or bedrooms. These serve to activate the telecoils embedded in your hearing aid or cochlear implant that raise the volume of sound; this can be useful in emergency situations.
We should not ignore the basic telephone, which is vital during an emergency of any sort. Most modern telephones now can be found in models that are hearing aid and CI-compatible, which allow their easy use during either normal or extraordinary conditions. Moreover, there are phones made for the hearing impaired which include speakerphones that function at high volumes, and which may be voice-activated. So if you fell and hurt yourself out of reach of the phone, you could still voice-dial for help. There are additional accessories for cellphones, such as vibrating wristbands that can inform you of an incoming telephone call even if you are asleep.
Other safety suggestions are less technological and more practical, like always having the phone numbers of fire departments, ambulance companies, doctors, and emergency services handy. We are as serious about your basic safety as we are about your hearing, so if we can be of service with any additional tips or recommendations, feel free to call us.