Did you know that 50% of all home fire deaths occur while we’re sleeping, during the hours of 11PM to 7AM? There are over 44 million adults with hearing loss living in the US, and they are particularly vulnerable to missing the audible alerts produced by traditional smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, especially while they are asleep.
Fortunately, there is assistive technology designed specifically for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing (HoH). Special smoke and CO detectors are available that produce tactile or visual alerts, to help provide more robust alerting at all hours in case of an emergency.
Consequences of House Fires
In the USA alone, an average of 353,100 house fires occurs each year. The amount of property damage from these home fires adds up to being around $7.2 billion dollars. Priceless family heirlooms and luxury goods may be reduced to ashes. The structural foundation of the home can experience significant damage during a house fire making it uninhabitable. Smoke and water from putting out the fire can also be absorbed by the structural support of the home, leaving permanent damage.
Furthermore, house fires may pose an even greater threat to an individual’s wellbeing. Those 353,100 house fires consequently caused an average of 2,620 US civilian deaths - every year! While there is a risk of being severely burned in a house fire, smoke inhalation and increased levels of Carbon Monoxide can be highly toxic leading fatal respiratory issues. More than 80% of deaths caused by house fires are related to smoke inhalation.
Beyond the flames, there can be emotional trauma from enduring the disaster. Experiencing an intense amount of stress which overwhelms coping mechanism can result in PTSD and stress-induced anxiety. Read below to learn more about what preventative measures can be taken to best protect yourself in the event of a house fire.
Tips on Preventing House Fires
According to the American Red Cross, a person has about two minutes to safely evacuate during a house fire. However, by creating good fire safety habits, you are greatly reducing the risk of a home fire starting. Here are a few preventative measures you can start putting into practice today:
- Install smoke alarms on every level in your home and outside each sleeping area. For better protection, consider adding a Carbon Monoxide detector to your fire alarm system.
- Always follow your Smoke or CO alarm’s manual carefully to ensure the correct placement and installation of your alarm.
- When possible, make sure all smoke alarm units are interconnected to ensure the alarm is broadcasted to the other smoke alarm units in the home when triggered.
- Test your smoke alarm at least once a month. Replace the batteries yearly. Completely replace the smoke alarm unit after 10 years.
- Maintain at least 3ft of distance between flammable objects and heat sources (including space heaters).
- Fix or replace worn-out extension cords, exposed wires, or loose plugs.
- Never leave a lit candle unattended. Always blow out the flame before leaving the room.
Read Red Cross’ full Fire Prevention and Safety Checklist.
Choosing the Right Smoke Alarm
If you do not have them already, installing smoke alarms in your home is perhaps the single biggest thing you can do to protect yourself against a house fire. According to the NFPA, having smoke alarms installed in your home can reduce the risk of dying in a house fire by 55%.
When developing good fire-safety habits, installing the right type of smoke alarm based on your needs is one of the most important first steps. Based on your hearing ability, you may require a solution that is more conspicuous; a solution that can grab your attention urgently without fail. Fire protection solutions designed for people with hearing difficulties often include visual and tactile alerting in conjunction with traditional auditory T3 alerting required by NFPA. Even if you are a hearing aid user, it is worth considering upgrading your fire alarm system to gain a better sense of protection in your home, since most hearing aid users do not wear them to sleep.
Furthermore, advancements in assistive technology have led to the production of smoke alarms tailored to the needs of people with hearing loss. Below you can read about some of the top-rated smoke alarm systems for people with hearing loss.
1. Bellman & Symfon’s Smoke and Fire Notification System
Bellman & Symfon’s Smoke and Fire Notification System is a fully interconnected system that works around the clock to protect you in your home. The Smoke Alarm Transmitter is bundled in two packages, “[email protected]” and “[email protected]”. The [email protected] package consists of a Smoke Alarm Transmitter, Bed Shaker, and Flash Receiver while the [email protected] package includes the Alarm Clock Receiver instead of the Flash Receiver. All components in these packages are a part of the Visit Smart-Home system from Bellman & Symfon.
The Smoke Alarm Transmitter is a UL-listed photoelectric smoke detector with up to 10 years of battery life. When smoke is detected, the Smoke Alarm Transmitter emits an auditory T3 alarm while sending radio signals to either the Flash Receiver or Alarm Clock Receiver, or both.
You can also connect a Bed Shaker to both the Flash Receiver and Alarm Clock Receiver for additional tactile alerting. The Flash Receiver will alert the user by intense flashing and the Bed Shaker will alert the user by powerful vibrations. The visual and tactile alerting adds two extra levels of security to keep you safe.
The Smoke Alarm Transmitter is connectable to all Bellman & Symfon Visit receivers, including the supplementary Pager Receiver and Portable Receiver. Bellman & Symfon offers different Visit Smoke Alarm packages, with or without the CO Alarm Transmitter. All parts of the Visit system are available also for individual purchase and include a two-year warranty.
Pricing: Starts at $409.90
2. Silent Call’s Medallion Series Smoke Detector with Transmitter
Silent Call’s Medallion Series Smoke Detector with Transmitter is a smoke detector with smart-home capabilities. The Medallion Series Smoke Detector creates a loud T3 frequency sound when triggered and alerts any nearby Medallion receivers allowing the user to be alerted by flashes and vibrations depending on the type of receiver.
The Medallion series of transmitters and receivers goes through extra lengths to prevent false alerts from neighboring radio frequency systems by incorporating million-code technology, giving each Silent Call Medallion System its own unique radio frequency. The Medallion Series from Silent Call also consists of Carbon Monoxide Alarm Transmitters to connect with any Medallion Receiver. All Medallion series transmitters and receivers come with a 3-5 year limited warranty. Each product sold separately.
Pricing: Starts at $110.95
3. First Alert Smoke Alarm with LED Strobe Light
First Alert’s Smoke Alarm with LED Strobe is a single-unit smoke detector implemented with an LED strobe to create a visual notification for people with hearing difficulties. This hardwired smoke detector comes with a 10-year sealed battery and can be interconnected with up to 18 First Alert detectors. The interconnected smoke alarms will emit a T3 frequency sound and flash in unison when triggered.
CO Alarms from First Alert are also available and can be compatible with any First Alert smoke detectors by having Smart Strobe which distinguishes the flashes for both fire and CO emergencies. To have the most protection when using First Alert’s Smoke Alarm with LED Strobe, be sure to place one unit in a clearly visible area in your bedroom so that you will be alerted of an oncoming emergency no matter where the fire begins. Each individual unit sold separately.
4. Lifetone’s Bedside Fire Alarm and Clock
Lifetone’s Bedside Fire Alarm and Clock is a unique approach to fire safety for people with hearing loss. Instead of sensing smoke at the source, Lifetone devices sense the T3 sound frequency of the existing smoke alarms in your home. Keep in mind that this is NOT a photoelectric smoke detector like the devices described above but is more or less an extension of alerting for your already-installed smoke alarms.
When the Lifetone Fire Alarm and Clock senses a T3 sound frequency, the device will alert by auditory, visual, and tactile notification. The device will emit a normal T3 beeping along with audible instruction to “Get out!” between beeps. The LCD clock screen will light up with a “FIRE” message presented, and the Bed Shaker will send vibrations to create additional visual and tactile alerts. Each Lifetone Bedside Fire Alarm and Clock is sold separately.
Containing the Flames
All in all, efforts made by fire safety organizations and advancements in assistive technology have greatly reduced the risk of being exposed to the dangers of fire. When considering the right smoke alarm in respect to your hearing ability, it is important to make sure the system is installed properly and that alerting functions are powerful enough to catch your attention, even when sleeping. Contact your local DHHS to find out if there are any ongoing initiatives for hearing impaired smoke alarms. If you have questions or feedback about smoke alarm systems for the hard-of-hearing, we would love to hear from you!
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