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One aspect of hearing loss that is rarely discussed is the basic decrease in safety of those who have experienced it. For instance, imagine that a fire breaks out in your home; if you’re like most of us you have smoke alarms to sound a warning so that you and your loved ones can evacuate the premises before the fire spreads too far and traps you. But now suppose that the fire breaks out during the night, when you are sleeping, and you’ve removed your hearing aid.

Virtually all smoke alarms (or related carbon monoxide detectors), produce a high volume warning sound between the frequencies of 3,000 to 4,000 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 if you are one of the more than 11 million Americans with hearing loss, there is a good chance that you would not hear your smoke alarm even if you were awake.

To remedy this, there are a number of home safety products that have been designed with the requirements of the hearing impaired in mind. For people with mild to moderate hearing loss, there are smoke alarms that emit a 520 Hz square-wave warning tone that they can generally 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 alert systems that combine extremely loud alarms, flashing lights, and vibrators that shake your mattress to warn you. For complete home safety, a number of these more modern units have been developed to be incorporated into more thorough home protection systems to alert you in case of burglars, or if emergency services are hammering on your doors.

To hear other sounds that may indicate danger, many hearing-impaired individuals have installed induction loops in their homes to improve the performance of their hearing aids or cochlear implants. These systems are basically long wires 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 very helpful during emergencies.

Not to mention the humble telephone, which all of us often ignore until we need one, but which may become crucial in any sort of emergency. Most present day telephones now are available in models that are hearing aid and CI-compatible, which allow their use during either normal or extraordinary conditions. Plus, there are telephones specifically designed for the hearing impaired which incorporate speakerphones that operate at high volumes, and which can 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 mobile phones, such as vibrating wristbands that will alert you to an incoming call even if you are asleep.

Obviously, some home safety suggestions for the hearing impaired are the exact same as for people who can hear well, such as trying to keep lists of your doctors, emergency service providers, and hospitals close by. If we can be of assistance to you in making your home safer for the hearing impaired, call us; we’ll be very happy to help.