One topic that is rarely mentioned when it comes to hearing loss is how to keep those who have suffered it safe in their own homes. Picture this scenario: you’re at home and a fire breaks out, and like most of us nowadays you have smoke alarms installed to alert you to make sure you and your loved ones can safely evacuate before the fire becomes life-threatening. But now imagine that the fire breaks out during the night, when you are asleep, and you’ve removed your hearing aid.
Nearly all smoke detectors (or similar carbon monoxide detectors), emit a high volume warning sound between the frequencies of 3000 – 4000 Hertz. This is acceptable for nearly everybody, but the fact is that these frequencies are among those most susceptible to age-related hearing loss, so older adults or those who have suffered other types of hearing impairment cannot hear them. So if you are among the more than eleven million people in America with hearing problems, there is a good chance that you wouldn’t hear your smoke detector even if you were awake.
To remedy this, there are a number of home safety products that have been re-engineered 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 sound that they can generally hear. In case you are fully deaf without your hearing aid or when you turn off your cochlear implants (CIs), there are other alarm systems that use a combination of flashing lights, loud alarms, and vibrating units that shake your bed to wake you up. For comprehensive home safety, many of these newer devices have been designed to be easily integrated into more thorough home protection systems to alert you in case of burglars, or if neighbors are beating on your doors.
Many who have hearing aids or who wear cochlear implants have chosen to extend the efficiency of these devices by installing induction loops in their houses. An induction loop is simply a lengthy wire that encircles your family room, bedroom, or children’s rooms, which activates the telecoils embedded in your hearing assistance devices to increase the volume of sounds, and therefore can help you not to miss any important or emergency announcements.
We shouldn’t forget the common telephone, which is indispensable during an emergency of any sort. The majority of present day telephones now can be found in models that are hearing aid and CI-compatible, which allow their use during either normal or extraordinary conditions. Plus, there are phones specifically designed for the hearing impaired which incorporate speakerphones that operate at high volumes, and which may be voice-activated. So if you were to fall and hurt yourself out of reach of the telephone, you could still voice-dial for assistance. There are additional accessories for cell phones, such as vibrating wristbands that will alert you to an incoming phone call even if you’re asleep.
Obviously, some home safety tips for the hearing impaired are the exact same as for those who can hear well, such as keeping lists of your health care providers, emergency service providers, and hospitals close by. If we may be of assistance to you in making your house safer for the hearing impaired, call us; we’ll be happy to assist.