Cold weather is here along with the risks associated with home heating systems. The threat of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning increases significantly during the winter months. For the deaf and hearing impaired who cannot hear the audible alarms of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, the risk increases substantially.
Alerting the Hearing Impaired
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors save many lives each year. Unfortunately, there are 28 million deaf and hearing impaired Americans who cannot rely on these life-saving devices. Deaf and hearing impaired people are at a significant risk because a decrease in one’s hearing ability may limit the opportunity to take quick action and escape an emergency.
Fortunately, there are specially designed devices exclusively for the deaf and hearing impaired. Hearing impaired alert devices are auditory, visual, or vibrotactile aids that inform hearing impaired or deaf individuals of emergency situations like a fire or a carbon monoxide crisis.
For the individual who is deaf or hearing impaired, there are two approaches for alerting one to the presence of carbon monoxide or a fire. If you are already using a generic style alert system, you can purchase an add-on system to place near your conventional system. You can also buy specialized fire and carbon monoxide detectors designed from the outset to alert you to danger.
Alarms With Lights
People who are hearing impaired cannot depend on the sound of a regular alarm to alert them to fire and carbon monoxide. They should use alarms with strobe lights tested in the laboratory. These alarms for sleeping areas are of a high intensity, capable of waking a sleeping person. The majority of alarm manufacturers offer alarms with strobe lights. Those that meet the U.L. standard include:
No matter what system you choose you to use, the following are some general guidelines for staying safe in the case of fire or carbon monoxide:
- Install a flashing or vibrating alarm system on every level of your home. Test the systems monthly, and change your batteries at least once a year.
- Let your family members, the building manager, or a neighbor know of your safety plan.
- Practice the escape plan regularly to ensure familiarity with using it.
- Practice trying to escape from every room in your house. Try to create two ways out of every room in the house.
- Ensure that the windows and window screens of your home have smooth movement.
- Do not waste your time trying to save property.
- Never attempt to open a door that is hot to the touch.
- If you must run through smoke, remember to crawl low under the smoke and keep your mouth covered.
- Designate a meeting place outside of your residence and take attendance to account for everyone.
A buildup of carbon monoxide or a fire in a home is a life-threatening emergency for everyone and is especially challenging for the deaf and hearing impaired. Take the time to develop your safety plan, share it with others, and make sure you have a tested visual alarm for carbon monoxide and fire emergencies.