One component of hearing loss that is not often discussed is the simple decrease in safety of people who have hearing difficulties. Imagine this situation: you’re at home when a fire breaks out, and like most people today you have smoke detectors to warn you to make sure you and your loved ones can evacuate before the fire becomes intense. But this time imagine further, and consider what would happen if your smoke alarm goes off in the middle of the night after you’ve gone to bed, removing your hearing aid first as you usually do.

The smoke alarms standard in most homes and those mandated by city or state governments produce a very loud warning sound at a frequency between 3000 to 4000 Hertz. Although the majority of people can hear these tones easily, these frequencies are among those most affected by age-related hearing loss and other kinds of auditory impairment. So even if you were awake, if you’re one of the more than eleven million Americans with hearing loss, there is a possibility that you would not hear the alarm.

To correct this, there are a variety of home safety products that have been designed with the needs of the hearing impaired in mind. For people with slight to moderate hearing loss, there are smoke detectors that emit a 520 Hertz square-wave warning sound that they can generally hear. In case you are fully deaf without your hearing aids or when you turn off your cochlear implants (CIs), there are other alarm systems which use a combination of blinking lights, very loud alarms, and bed shakers to wake you up in an emergency. For complete home safety, a number of these more modern units have been designed to be integrated into more extensive home protection systems to alert you in case of burglars, or if neighbors are hammering on your doors.

Many who have hearing aids or who have CIs have elected to extend the performance of these devices by setting up induction loops in their houses. These systems are basically long wires positioned in a loop around your family room, kitchen, or bedrooms. These serve to activate the telecoils inside your hearing aid or CI that raise the volume of sound; this can be useful during emergency situations.

Not to mention the lowly telephone, which all of us tend to ignore until we need one, but which may become critical in any sort of emergency situation. Fortunately, a number of contemporary mobile and residential phones are now telecoil-compatible, to allow their use by individuals wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants. Other models integrate speakerphone systems with very high volumes that can be used by the hearing impaired, and more notably, can be voice-activated. So if you fell and hurt yourself out of reach of the phone, you could still voice-dial for help. Other manufacturers produce vibrating bracelets that interact with your cellphone to awaken you or inform you if you get a telephone call.

Naturally, some home safety tips for the hearing impaired are the same as for people who can hear well, such as keeping lists of your health care providers, emergency service providers, and hospitals close at hand. We are as concerned about your safety as we are about your hearing, so if we can be of service with any further tips or recommendations, feel free to call us.