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One aspect of hearing loss that is rarely discussed is the simple decrease in safety of those who have hearing difficulties. Imagine this situation: you’re in your house and a fire begins, and like most people today you have smoke alarms to warn you so that you and your loved ones can safely evacuate before the fire becomes intense. But this time suppose that the fire breaks out at night, when you’re asleep, and you’ve taken off your hearing aids.

Most smoke detectors (or similar carbon monoxide detectors), including almost all devices approved and mandated by city and state governments, emit a high volume warning sound between the frequencies of 3,000 to 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 kinds of auditory problems. So if you’re among the more than 11 million people in America with hearing loss, there’s a possibility that you simply wouldn’t hear your smoke detector even if you were awake.

To remedy this, there are a variety of home safety products that have been re-engineered with the needs of the hearing impaired in mind. For example, there are smoke alarms that emit a low-frequency (520 Hertz) square wave tone that a majority of hearing-impaired individuals can hear. In case you are completely deaf without your hearing aid or when you turn off your cochlear implants (CIs), you’ll find alarm systems that use a combination of blinking lights, loud alarms, and vibrating units that shake your bed to wake you up. Many of these systems are intended to be incorporated into more complete home security systems to alert you to burglars or people thumping madly on your door in the case of an emergency.

To hear other sounds that may indicate danger, many hearing-impaired people have set up induction loops in their houses for boosting the efficiency of their hearing aids or cochlear implants. An induction loop is merely a long wire that encircles your living room, bedroom, or children’s rooms, which activates the telecoils embedded in your hearing assistance devices to increase the volume of sounds, and therefore may help you not to miss any important or emergency notifications.

And of course there is the lowly telephone, which many of us tend to ignore until we need one, but which can become critical in any sort of emergency situation. Thankfully, many modern mobile and residential telephones are now telecoil-compatible, to allow their use by those wearing hearing aids or CIs. Other phone models integrate speakerphone systems with high volumes that can be easily used by the hearing impaired, and more importantly, can be voice-activated. So if you fell and hurt yourself out of reach of the telephone, you could still voice-dial for assistance. There are other accessories for cellphones, such as vibrating wristbands that will alert you to an incoming telephone call even if you are asleep.

Naturally, some home safety tips 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 very happy to help.