One component 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 starts in your home; if you are like most people you have smoke detectors to sound an alert so that you and your family can evacuate the house before a fire spreads too far and traps you. But now imagine that the fire breaks out during the night, when you’re sleeping, and you’ve taken off your hearing aids.

The smoke detectors standard in almost all homes and those mandated by city or state governments produce a loud warning tone at a frequency between 3,000 and 4,000 Hz. Although the majority of people can hear these sounds easily, these frequencies are among those most impacted by age-related hearing loss and other forms 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 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 instance, there are smoke alarms that emit a low-frequency (520 Hz) square wave tone that a majority of hearing-impaired people can hear. If you are completely deaf without your hearing aid or when you turn off your cochlear implants (CIs), there are other alarm systems that use a mix of flashing lights, very loud alarms, and bed shakers to wake you up. For complete home safety, many of these more modern units have been designed to be easily incorporated into more thorough home protection systems to alert you in case of burglars, or if neighbors are beating on your doors.

To hear other sounds which might signal danger, many hearing-impaired individuals have installed induction loops in their homes to improve the efficiency of their hearing aids or CIs. An induction loop is merely a lengthy strand of wire that surrounds your living room, bedroom, or children’s rooms, which activates the telecoils inside your devices to increase the volume of sounds, and thus may help you not to miss any important or emergency notifications.

And of course there is the lowly telephone, which many of us often ignore until we need one, but which can become crucial in any sort of emergency situation. Most present day phones now can be found in models that are hearing aid and CI-compatible, which permit their easy use during either normal or extraordinary conditions. Other models integrate speakerphone systems with very 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 phone, you could still voice-dial for assistance. Other manufacturers produce vibrating wristbands that communicate with your mobile phone to wake you up or inform you if you get a phone call.

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