Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

One aspect of hearing loss which is seldom discussed is the simple decrease in safety of people who have hearing difficulties. Picture this situation: you’re in your house when a fire breaks out, and like most people nowadays you have smoke detectors to alert you to make sure you and your family can evacuate before the fire becomes intense. But this time suppose that the fire begins during the night, when you’re asleep, and you’ve removed your hearing aid.

The smoke detectors common in most houses and those required by city and local governments produce a loud warning tone at a frequency between 3,000 and 4,000 Hz. This approach is acceptable for most people, but the fact is that these frequencies are among those most at risk of age-related hearing loss, so older adults or people who have sustained other types of hearing impairment can’t hear them. So even if you were awake, if you’re among the more than eleven million Americans with hearing loss, there is a chance that you would not hear the alarm.

To correct this, there are a variety of home safety products that have been re-engineered with the needs of the hearing impaired in mind. For those with slight to moderate hearing loss, there are smoke alarms that emit a 520 Hz square-wave warning sound that they can generally hear. For those who are completely deaf, or who cannot hear at all when they take out their hearing aids or turn off their cochlear implants (CIs) during the night, there are alarm systems that blend extremely loud noises, blinking lights, and vibrators that shake your bed. Several of these methods are designed to be incorporated into more complete home security systems to warn you of burglars or neighbors thumping madly on your doors in the event of an emergency.

To hear other sounds that may signal danger, many hearing-impaired people have set up induction loops in their houses for boosting the performance of their hearing aids or CIs. These systems are basically long wires placed in a loop around your living room, kitchen, or bedrooms. These can activate the telecoils inside your hearing aid or CI that increase the volume of sound; this can be very helpful in emergencies.

Not to mention the humble telephone, which many of us tend to ignore until we need one, but which may become crucial in any sort of emergency situation. Fortunately, many modern mobile and residential phones are now telecoil-compatible, to permit their use by those wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants. Plus, there are phones specifically designed for the hearing impaired which incorporate speakerphones that function at high volumes, and which may 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 additional accessories for mobile phones, such as vibrating wristbands that can inform you of an incoming call even if you’re asleep.

Obviously, some home safety tips for the hearing impaired are the exact same as for people who can hear well, such as always keeping lists of your doctors, emergency service providers, and hospitals close by. We are as serious about your safety as we are about your hearing, so if we can be of service with any additional tips or recommendations, feel free to call us.

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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