The five senses tether us to the world, keeping us in touch and connected to our surroundings. When hearing loss sets in it’s common for those affected to be at a higher risk of falls and accidents leading to hospitalizations. This is attributed to the lack of awareness that hearing loss causes. Normal hearing not only helps us communicate with others but helps us locate the directions proximity and approaching speeds of the sounds we encounter daily. To stay safe with hearing loss there are many strategies. Here are just a few:
No matter how cautious we are accidents happen. You never know when poor electric wiring or a baking incident will spontaneously start a fire. Most smoke alarms alert us to fire by a high-pitched beep. While for most it’s hard to miss for those with high-frequency hearing loss this alarm tone may be inaudible. Two of the most common causes of hearing loss are age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) and noise-induced hearing loss, which produce high-frequency hearing loss, making this a widespread issue. This is especially an issue for hearing aid users, as it may be difficult for alarms to wake them when hearing aids are out at night.
A 2009 study published in Ear and Hearing states “that alarms to detect smoke and heat in a home that comes with low-frequency tones works better for those who are struggling to hear like the elderly, even more so than flashing lights which were effective only about 27 percent of the time.” The study found that bed or pillow shakers are a more effective choice. The study reported that between 80 to 84 percent of participants awoke when shaken while sleeping. Others find that alarms which employ a strobe light can also be effective to get someone’s visual attention when audio perception is impaired.
Access to 911
When there is a serious emergency it’s time to call 911. Whether it’s firefighters, ambulances, or even police, there’s a time and place to call. However, for hearing impaired people in distress how can they communicate over the phone when their hearing is impaired and hearing aids are not working, not used, or unavailable?
One way to address this issue is to make sure your location services are turned on, on your smartphone at all times. Your GPS can work as a tracking system allowing emergency responders to find you if you struggle to communicate.
If you do have access to hearing aids during an emergency many come equipped with Bluetooth connectivity which can stream the 911 operator directly to your hearing aids wirelessly using radio waves. This can allow you to hear the sounds of the operator with the proper program based on your hearing exam. You can ask questions and respond with confidence during an emergency, keeping you and the people around you safer.
Protecting Your Home
You want to protect your home from theft, especially if you have kids or as you age. However, burglar alarm systems pose the same issues as smoke alarms. Most of them create a similarly high-frequency alarm sound which can mean that you can easily miss it. Even so, burglar alarm systems can help, especially as many with a hearing impairment may miss the sounds of intruders attempting to break in.
There are several home alarm systems on the market particularly designed for the hearing impaired. This may include strobe lights and bed shakers to make sure you are aware if there is suspicious activity going on around the sanctity of your home. When you sign up for a security system be sure to let them know you are hearing impaired so you can make sure you are offered all the features to make your home safe for you.
Take Advantage of Hearing Technology
If you are living with hearing loss and you are not treating it, perhaps the number one thing you can do to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you is to schedule a hearing exam. We can diagnose the nature of your hearing loss and find the best solution for your particular needs. You’ll be more alert, aware, and ready for any emergency that comes your way. Call today!