Improving Home Safety for Hearing Impaired Loved Ones

One element of hearing loss which is seldom discussed is the simple decrease in safety of those who have hearing difficulties. Picture this situation: you’re in your house and a fire breaks out, and like most of us nowadays you have smoke alarms installed to alert you so that you and your loved ones can evacuate before the fire becomes life-threatening. But this time imagine that the fire begins at night, when you are sleeping, and you have taken off your hearing aids.

Virtually all smoke detectors (or related carbon monoxide detectors), including almost all devices approved and mandated by city and state governments, produce a high volume warning sound between the frequencies of 3000 – 4000 Hz. Although the majority of people can hear these tones without difficulty, these frequencies are among those most affected by age-related hearing loss and other forms of auditory impairment. So even if you were awake, if you’re among the more than 11 million Americans with hearing loss, there’s a possibility that you wouldn’t hear the alarm.

Luckily, there are home safety products that are expressly created for the needs of the hearing impaired. For instance, there are smoke detectors that emit a low-frequency (520 Hertz) square wave tone that most hearing-impaired people can hear. In case you are completely deaf without your hearing aid or when you turn off your cochlear implants (CIs), you’ll find alert systems which 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 devices have been designed to be integrated into more thorough home protection systems to alert you in case of intruders, or if neighbors are pounding on your doors.

Many who have hearing aids or who have cochlear implants have chosen to improve the performance of these devices by setting up induction loops in their homes. These systems are in essence long strands of wire placed in a loop around your family room, kitchen, or bedrooms. These can activate the telecoils inside your hearing aid or cochlear implant that increase the volume of sound; this can be useful in emergency situations.

We should not forget the common telephone, which is vital in an emergency of any kind. Thankfully, a number of modern mobile and home 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 used by the hearing impaired, and more importantly, can be voice-activated. So if you were to fall and hurt yourself away from the phone, you could still voice-dial for help. There are additional accessories for cell phones, such as vibrating wristbands that can alert you to an incoming telephone call even if you’re asleep.

Obviously, some home safety tips for the hearing impaired are the same as for those who can hear well, such as trying to keep 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, give us a call; we’ll be very happy to assist.

This entry was posted on Saturday, March 9th, 2013 at 1:11 pm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions, LLC provides hearing evaluations and tinnitus evaluations to patients in Ellicott City, Columbia, Catonsville, Baltimore, Sykesville and all of Howard, Carroll and Baltimore County. Contact Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions, LLC at 410-698-6594 to schedule a tinnitus evaluation or hearing evaluation.

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