Recently there has been some coverage on how smoke detectors do not wake people who are hard of hearing. Although smoke detectors have very loud alarms and are “alarming” to most people… those with a hearing loss may not find that to be true. Depending on the degree of hearing loss, hard of hearing people may hear the alarm but it may not be loud enough to disrupt sleep; it may be soft or it may be completely inaudible.

I know hearing aid wearers who live alone in their homes and are concerned about taking their hearing aids off at night and for good reason. Hearing aids are the link to the audible world for many people and is often the only device people invest in to compensate for their loss. Alerting system can help fill the gap in accommodating for situations where hearing aids are not enough, when hearing aids can't be worn or are not an option.

Alerting systems are not new to the market… in fact strobe lights and vibrating alerts have been around for a long time. They are an everyday electronic in the homes of severe or profoundly hard of hearing or deaf/Deaf folks but they are not very common in the homes of the hard of hearing of lesser degree.

Unfortunately, many people with hearing loss deny themselves the protection of appropriate alerting devices because they do not believe their loss is great enough to justify the purchase or because they believe their family or friends or neighbors will help them if there is ever an emergency. This is truly troubling. Those who deny themselves the help are sacrificing their independence and possibly endangering their lives. It is not worth the risk. It is suspected that many casualties have resulted from this chosen isolation from the world.

Don't take the risk. Tell your family about it, too. Professional help is available and audiological care includes the assessment of your needs for alerting and assistive devices. Please call for more information. There is a solution for every household.

National Fire Protection Association
Lifetone Technology

Excerpts from NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code:

29.3 Basic Requirements. (In part)

29.3.7 When visible appliances are provided, they shall meet the requirements of Section 18.5. Since hearing deficits are often not apparent, the responsibility for advising the appropriate person(s) of the existence of this deficit shall be that of the party with hearing loss.

29.3.8 Notification appliances provided in sleeping rooms and guest rooms for those with hearing loss shall comply with and as applicable. Mild to Severe Hearing Loss. Notification appliances provided for those with mild to severe hearing loss shall comply with the following:

  1. An audible notification appliance producing a low frequency alarm signal shall be installed in the following situations:
    • Where required by governing laws, codes or standards for people with hearing loss
    • Where provided voluntarily for those with hearing loss.
  2. The low frequency alarm signal output shall comply with the following:
    • The alarm signal shall be a square wave or provide equivalent awakening ability.
    • The wave shall have a fundamental frequency of 520 Hz  +/- 10 percent.
    • The minimum sound level at the pillow shall be 75dBA, or 15 dB above the average ambient sound level, or 5 dB above the maximum sound level having a duration of at least 60 seconds, whichever is greater. Profound Hearing Loss. Visible notification appliances in accordance with the requirements of and tactile notification appliances in accordance with the requirements of 18.10 shall be required for those with profound hearing loss in the following situations:

  1. Where required by governing laws, codes, or standards for people with hearing loss
  2. Where provided voluntarily for those with hearing loss.

This blog posted by Suzanne Yoder, Au.D. Doctor of Audiology and owner of HearWell Center. Please visit our website for more information