Man wearing security jacket is meant to represent practices that can keep you safe when you have hearing loss.

Hearing connects you to the world in ways that you may not realize. For example, you rely on your hearing to know when the smoke alarm is going off. Safety is a vital issue for those who experience hearing loss, especially when it is gradual. How do people who can’t hear deal with things like the smoke alarm?

With about 20 percent of the population in this country reporting some degree of hearing loss, clearly, the question of safety comes up a lot. Consider some of the dangers people face every day and how the hearing loss community manages them.

With about 20 percent of the people in the U.S. diagnosed with some form off hearing loss, clearly, this question has come up before. Consider some of the security issues those with hearing loss face daily and how they are handled.

About Those Smoke Alarms

So, what do they do about smoke alarms? The key is to make use of the other senses. The common high-frequency smoke alarm won’t work effectively for someone with hearing loss, especially during the night when their hearing aids are put away somewhere.

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 work 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. Bed or pillow shakers were a practical choice, as well. The study found between 80 to 84 percent of participants awoke when shaken during the night.

Access to 911

The 911 system is a lifeline to communicate with the police and EMS but how does that work if you can’t hear? There are a couple of ways to solve this problem. First, make sure your mobile phone has a GPS system. This allows an EMS operator to locate you from anywhere if you do call for help even if you can’t hear them. They can send someone to you based on your phone coordinates. You can also look into hearing aids that connect to your phone through Bluetooth technology. The right hearing aid eliminates the communication problem.

Installing landlines at home makes sense, too, and make sure to put one next to the bed for emergencies in the night. With a landline, you can dial 911 and the operator will send out a patrol to check on you whether speak or not. Contact your service provider before installing a landline, though, so you know they are 911 compliant. Some VoIP systems will not automatically transmit your address to the 911 operator.

You can take advantage of the high-tech hearing assistive devices such as a video relay system or a captioned phone. If you do opt to carry just a smartphone, buddy up with friends and family to get help if you need it. Establishing an emergency contact group means you can send a text out to them and they can call 911 for you. The more people on your buddy list, in fact, the better.

Protecting Your Home

Home alarm systems bring with them some of the same challenges as smoke alarms. They tend to emit a high-frequency sound that is tough for someone with a hearing challenged to hear. It is important to have this kind of safety equipment because you are also not going to hear someone breaking into your home, either.

Look for alarms systems designed just for the hearing impaired. Many come with bed shakers and strobe lights that warn you of a break-in. Pick a security system with a remote panic button that you can keep close to your bed for added safety, too. Make a point to tell the alarm company that you are hearing impaired when you sign up for the service. They will work with you to figure out the best way to communicate.

Take Advantage of Hearing Technology

For many, the best option is hearing aids. Talk to your doctor to determine if hearing aids are a workable choice for you. If so, go to a certified retailer so you know you purchase quality products designed to keep you safe and improve your life.

Bluetooth compatibility is just one common feature in modern hearing aids. Directional microphones cut back on interference, so you can concentrate on what is going on around you.

Finally, don’t be afraid to be yourself. Your friends, neighbors, and family are some of the most powerful safety assets you have, so just be honest and tell them about hearing challenges. If you are worried about your security, sit down with them and discuss ways to keep you safe, so you feel better about your security options.

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.