Being Safe at Home when You or a Loved One has Hearing Loss

One subject that is rarely discussed with regards to hearing loss is how to keep those who have suffered it safe in their own homes. For example, suppose that a fire starts in your house; if you’re like most people you have smoke alarms to sound an alert so that you and your family can evacuate the home before the fire spreads too far and traps you. But now imagine that the fire begins at night, when you’re sleeping, and you’ve taken off your hearing aids.

Virtually all smoke alarms (or related carbon monoxide detectors), including nearly all units accredited and mandated by city and state governments, produce a loud warning sound between the frequencies of 3000 – 4000 Hz. This approach is acceptable for most people, but the fact is that these frequencies are among those most vulnerable to age-related hearing loss, so seniors or those who have sustained other forms of hearing impairment can’t hear them. So if you’re one of the more than eleven million Americans with hearing problems, there is a possibility that you simply would not hear your smoke alarm even if you were awake.

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 alarms that emit a 520 Hertz square-wave warning tone that they can generally hear. For those who are totally deaf, or who are unable to hear whatsoever when they take out their hearing aids or turn off their cochlear implants (CIs) at night when they go to bed, there are alarm systems that combine extremely loud alarms, flashing lights, and vibrators that shake your mattress. For complete home safety, a number of these more modern units have been designed to be incorporated into more thorough home protection systems to alert you in case of intruders, or if emergency services are beating on your doors.

Many who have hearing aids or who have CIs have chosen to boost the efficiency of these devices by setting up induction loops in their houses. An induction loop is simply a long strand of wire that surrounds your family room, bedroom, or children’s rooms, which activates the telecoils embedded in your hearing assistance devices to raise the volume of sounds, and therefore may help you not to miss any important or emergency signals.

Not to mention 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 contemporary mobile and residential phones are now telecoil-compatible, to permit their use by those wearing hearing aids or CIs. Other phone models incorporate speakerphone systems with high volumes that can be easily used by the hearing impaired, and more importantly, can 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. Other manufacturers produce vibrating wristbands that interact with your mobile phone to awaken you or inform you if you get a telephone call.

Obviously, some home safety suggestions for the hearing impaired are the exact same as for people who can hear well, such as always keeping lists of your health care providers, emergency service providers, and hospitals close by. If we can be of assistance to you in helping to make your house safer for the hearing impaired, call us; we’ll be happy to help.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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