Whether you rent or own a home, it’s important that you have high-quality smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms installed to alert you in the event of an emergency. For many of us, we can simply buy and install one of the many devices available at the local hardware store and – voila! The job is done.
However, if you’re deaf or hard of hearing, commonly available smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms may not be capable of properly notifying you in the event of an emergency. While the general public can be awoken or alerted by a high-pitch beeping noise, if you’re deaf or hard of hearing, this won’t be enough to wake you up in the middle of the night.
To help keep you safe from the dangers of smoke and carbon monoxide, here are some home safety device options for the deaf and hard of hearing:
While most smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms simply let off a high-pitched beeping noise, this is, of course, not going to wake up or alert someone who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. Instead, many smoke alarms come specially outfitted with strobe lights that can be used to alert someone in the living spaces of their home. For sleeping areas, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends alarms with special high-intensity strobe lights, which are specifically designed to wake a sleeping person.
It is important to note, however, that strobe lights can have serious negative impacts on people with photosensitive epilepsy, autism, ADHD, and sensory processing disorders. While the ability to notify someone of a life-threatening emergency is of the utmost importance, strobe light smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms must be carefully considered for use with people with certain additional support needs and conditions.
Deaf and hard of hearing people who find that they are not woken up by strobe lights or people who can’t be exposed to the intensity of those lights, might benefit from smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that couple with vibrating devices. These devices generally come in the form of a pillow shaker or a bed vibrator and are activated by the sound of a smoke detector or carbon monoxide alarm. Such devices usually vibrate vigorously enough that it is difficult – if not impossible – to sleep through them.
Regardless of what kind of emergency alarm you choose, it’s important to make sure that your emergency equipment is certified by a recognized and reputable testing laboratory. When it comes to emergency equipment, it might be worth spending a bit of extra money to get a device you can rely on.
Moreover, regardless of the kind of emergency devices you choose to install in your home, it’s critical that everyone in your home recognizes and understands the signals that come from these devices. Especially if you choose to install a variety of different alarm styles throughout your house, everyone in a household should know what a specific alarm means and how to react in an emergency.
Finally, all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide devices should be tested regularly (at least once a month) and their batteries should be replaced at least twice a year, or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are vital pieces of home safety equipment that require special attention for the deaf and hard of hearing.