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One topic which is seldom mentioned when it comes to hearing loss is how to keep those who have suffered it safe inside their homes. Picture this situation: you’re at home and a fire begins, and like most of us nowadays you have smoke alarms to alert you to make sure you and your loved ones can evacuate before the fire becomes intense. But this time suppose that the fire breaks out at night, when you’re sleeping, and you have removed your hearing aids.

The smoke alarms common in most houses and those required by city or state governments produce a very loud warning tone at a frequency between 3000 to 4000 Hz. This approach is fine for most people, but the fact is that these frequencies are among those most at risk of age-related hearing loss, so seniors or people who have sustained other forms of hearing impairment can’t hear them. So even if you were awake, if you’re one of the more than eleven million Americans with hearing loss, there’s a chance that you wouldn’t hear the alarm.

To remedy this, there are a variety of home safety products that have been re-engineered with the requirements of the hearing impaired in mind. For those with slight to moderate hearing loss, there are smoke detectors that emit a 520 Hz 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 alert systems that use a combination of blinking lights, loud alarms, and vibrating units that shake your bed to wake you up in an emergency. Several of these methods are intended to be incorporated into more complete home security systems to warn you of intruders or neighbors pounding madly on your doors in the event of an emergency.

Many who have hearing aids or who have CIs have chosen to improve the performance of these devices by setting up induction loops in their homes. An induction loop is simply a lengthy strand of wire that surrounds your family room, bedroom, or children’s rooms, which activates the telecoils inside your hearing assistance devices to increase the volume of sounds, and thus can help you not to miss any important or emergency announcements.

And of course there is the humble telephone, which all of us tend to ignore until we need one, but which may become critical in any kind of emergency situation. The majority of modern phones now are available in models that are hearing aid and CI-compatible, which enable their use during either normal or extraordinary conditions. Other phone models incorporate speakerphone systems with very high volumes that can be used by the hearing impaired, and more notably, can be voice-activated. So if you were to fall and hurt yourself out of reach of the phone, you could still voice-dial for help. There are other accessories for cellphones, such as vibrating wristbands that can alert you to an incoming telephone call even if you are sleeping.

Other safety tips are less technological and more practical, like always keeping the telephone numbers of fire departments, ambulance providers, health care providers, and emergency services handy. We are as concerned about your basic 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.

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