Last month during Deaf Awareness Week (6th-13th of May) the fireman of Sussex highlighted the importance of fire alarms for deaf and hard of hearing people. According to the Sussex fire station there are approximately one million adults in the UK that are unable to hear a fire alarm due to hearing difficulties.
Steve Wright, Community Safety team manager of Sussex Fire brigade, said: “It is vital that people who are deaf or hard of hearing ensure they have the right smoke alarm technology in their home to protect them…A specialist alarm system provides valuable time to escape from a house fire. Without it, lives could be lost.”
The UK national fire statistics show that in Great Britain of the 306 house where fire fatalities occurred in 2010-2011 there was no smoke alarm present in 37% of all house. A further 25% of houses, which equated to 76 deaths, occurred where a smoke alarm was present but did not work.
Whilst these statistics do not state what type of fire alarm was present, sound or vibrating, they do highlight the importance of having the right fire alarm and that it is checked regularly.
At night, when most fires occur, smoke has shown to put people into a deeper sleep, making it harder to react as the smoke often contains poisonous gasses such as carbon monoxide. For people with hearing aids who hear well enough during the day, it may not occur to them of the need for a different fire alarm at night. However as they remove the hearing aid to sleep they are effectively rendered deaf.
The risk of a fire fatality at home increases with age and is the second highest contributor of accidental death for the elderly. As such fire presents a particular risk to deaf or hard of hearing people that are over 65, which amounts to 70% of the population with hearing difficulties.
A vibrating and flashing fire alarm helps to alert a deaf person of the fire danger. The wireless fire alarm reacts to the sound of an ordinary fire alarm by vibrating a flashing ‘fire’ on the LCD screen. Fire alarms for the deaf gives people with hearing difficulties the best possible reaction time, helping them to escape from the fire safely.
Another important part of fire safety, for anyone, is to have an evacuation plan with an outside meeting place. Highlighting what to do in the event of a fire at home and having a fire alarm that works and suits your needs, helps to ensure that everyone is equipped to escape quickly and safely.
About the author: The author of this post writes for Fireco, manufactures of intelligent products and systems that listen for the sound of the fire alarm such as deafgard.