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Fire Alert And Alarm Considerations For Homes With Deaf Or Hard-Of-Hearing Residents

Every residence should be equipped with smoke alarms, at a minimum, and depending on local codes, other fire alert devices. However, deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals need additional protections to ensure they are not sufficiently warned during a fire emergency. Audible alarms simply aren't sufficient to provide warning for most deaf and hard-of-hearing persons. That is why other forms of safeguards must be in place to ensure the safety of those who aren't able to fully rely upon their hearing. Here are some fire alert systems that should be implemented whenever a deaf or hard-of-hearing individual is involved:

Modified pitch alarms

It is important to keep in mind that hard-of-hearing persons, by definition, are capable of hearing at least some sounds and that audible alarms should not be abandoned entirely. If some residual hearing is intact, then alarms can be installed that match available pitch, or frequency, ranges. For example, if a person retains minimal hearing in the lower range of 1,000 to 2,000 kHz, then alarms should be modified to project low frequency sounds. This practice is already commonly used in emergency vehicle sirens that project such sounds for the benefit of hearing-impaired drivers. Of course, such use necessitates the matching of frequency with known auditory diagnostic data for the resident.

Visual alarms

Some of the most useful alert systems that can be implemented for persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing are those that rely upon visual cues. Visual cues include the use of strobe lights that flash in tandem with audible alarms or other devices that convey a sight-based alert. To be fully useful, however, these systems must be installed in areas that are commonly frequented by the deaf or hard-of-hearing resident. Installing these systems in out of the way places or behind obstructions such as columns, walls, alcoves and other areas will not provide sufficient warning. In addition, visual alerts should not be the only alarms in place, as they may not be sufficient to awaken a deaf person should there be a nighttime emergency.

Physical cue alarms

A physical cue alarm device relies upon signaling a deaf or hard-of-hearing person with some type of stimulus that can be felt by the occupant. Such alert devices can be installed in such a manner so they shake beds or chairs, and some can even be implemented via small devices worn on the body. The key factor with using physical cue systems is that they must be capable of providing a sufficient amount of vibration that can be readily felt by a deaf or hard-of-hearing person. As with other alert systems, it is necessary that physical cue-producing devices be installed in multiple areas; for example, installing a shaker alarm in a sofa but not in a recliner may be disastrous if the occupant moves to the recliner unexpectedly.

Reliable companion or partner

While not a device, having a reliable companion or partner to provide deaf or hard-of-hearing persons with warning of a possible fire is of great value. In addition, it's not only humans who can capably serve in such a role; many individuals have service dogs who can aid them in understanding if there is danger afoot. This can be a big positive for individuals who live alone and aren't able to rely upon a human companion for help. However, keep in mind that such dogs should be trained to accurately identify troublesome areas and not provide owners with false alarms. If a human partner is chosen to help, you will want to be sure they are reliable and able to provide prompt assistance in the event of an emergency. Don't rely solely upon another person for this type of help, as illness or distraction could prevent them from warning an occupant. For more information, contact a company like Fyr Fyter Inc.