We have stated many times that having a hearing loss contributes to depression, isolation, and difficulties in personal relationships. However, there is another consideration for those who have hearing loss– safety. Here are a couple of safety issues that those who are hard of hearing need to consider:
Smoke alarms save lives. But those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing cannot depend on the sound of the regular alarm to alert them to a fire.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that” people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing should use alarms with strobe (flashing) lights that have been tested by an independent testing laboratory. The alarms for sleeping areas with strobe lights are required to be of a special high intensity that can wake a sleeping person. Most major smoke alarm companies offer alarms with strobe lights. For information on availability and pricing, go to the manufacturers’ Web sites. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of smoke alarms that meet U.L. standard 1971 for people who are deaf or hard of hearing include: Ace Hardware Corporation, BRK Electronics, Gentex Corporation, Kidde Fire Safety, and Menards, Inc.” (more info here)
There are also vibrating panels availble that go under a mattress to alert a sleeping person who can’t hear the frequency of an alarm. One option is a Lifetone Alarm. The Lifetone Bedside Fire Alarm and Clock is an assistive alerting device intended for use in a residence by individuals with hearing loss or the deaf during a quiet environment and which is placed next to a bed or usual nighttime sleeping area. The Lifetone HL Fire Alarm will detect the T3 emergency signal given by existing, properly placed UL 217-listed smoke alarms and, when detected, will give its own emergency signal at a lower frequency (520 Hz), which may be heard by individuals with hearing loss in their beds. The product also gives its emergency signals visually through a display screen and through a tactile Bed Shaker, either of which may be detected by Deaf individuals in their beds. The Lifetone HL Fire Alarm is not intended for use in marine watercraft, recreational vehicles (“RV”), mobile homes, or hospitals.
You can get this device online at lifetonesafety.com, or contact our office and we can get one for you. They run around $150.
Doorbells, Babies Crying, Motion Detectors
High pitched sounds such as doorbells, phones, and babies crying can also be difficult for those with hearing loss. There are some great products available. Many of them are very simple– you plug a lamp or some other device into the sensor and then the safety sensor turns the lamp on and off to alert you. There is even a special add on available that can alert you of unusual motion in your home, which is ideal for intruder alerts, or for caring for children. Many of these products can be found at The Hearing Shop.
Traditionally, those with hearing loss struggle to hear on the telephone. Part of that occurs because much of our communication comes from visual cues, including lip reading. When you remove the visual cues to talk on the telephone, you rely solely on the sense of hearing, which automatically puts those with hearing loss at a disadvantage. There are a few great options available:
- Caption Call telephones. These phones have a display screen which, when plugged into an internet connection, shows the conversation in captions. This phone is also a very good amplified phone.
- Hearing aid / Bluetooth combination. Many hearing aids have Bluetooth capabilities which work with most cell phones and even some land-line phones on the market.
- Amplified phones. These have been available for years and often come in models with larger buttons for those who have a hard time seeing or issues with dexterity.
- Skype. If you have a computer and internet access (and the person you want to talk with does as well), you can use Skype. This is a program that allows you to “video conference”. This restores those visual cues that you miss on the phone and allows you to turn up the speakers to a level that is comfortable for you.
If you would like to discuss any of these options further or need more information, please call our office at 801-770-0801.