Since October is Fire Safety Month, I would like to continue the conversation on smoke detectors. The Lifetone smoke detector alerting device was mentioned in a previous post that could be an effective solution for people with high frequency hearing loss. The Lifetone unit uses a sound sensor to 'detect' a T3 smoke detector. When detected, the unit emits a loud 520 Hz square wave sound and starts a bedshaker to alert you.
Silent Call Communications provides another option for people with severe to profound hearing loss. Their flagship line includes a smoke detector and receiver. The smoke detector emits a high frequency alarm when activated but also sends a radio transmitted signal to the receiver that can be up to 100 feet away. The receiver can use both a strobe light and bedshaker for alerting.
The Smoke Alarm Study was completed late 2007 and Silent Call has since introduced another line of products. The Sidekick II Signature Series has bright, flashing strobe and front indicator panel alerts users quickly to visitors, calls, and emergencies. The smoke detector and receivers must all be the Silent Call brand so that you know all components work together.
The most important feature is that this receiver monitors up to 3 smoke detectors (up to 2000 ft). If a fire or smoke alarm has a low battery, blocked path or malfunction, the Sidekick II notifies the user so corrective action can be taken. The monitor has a night dimming backlight display so it does not interfere with sleep at night and provides alerts 24/7. Most users opt for the bedshaker as well.
The smoke alarm study evaluated the performance of six different signals for waking up hard of hearing people from deep sleep and found the 520 Hz square wave to be the most effective of all the signals. Bedshakers awoke 80 percent of the subjects at benchmark levels, awaking the majority very quickly, but did not wake up 100 percent of the subjects even at higher levels of intensity.
The report further states, 'Even though strobe lights may not be effective by themselves at waking up hard of hearing people from deep sleep, it's important to remember that strobe lights are still needed for alerting deaf people when they are awake and are not in contact with a tactile alerting device,' said Dana Mulvany, member of the Technical Panel for the research project.
George Elwell, president of Silent Call Communications was motivated to start his business when he was trying to meet the needs of his brother-in-law who became permanently deaf at age two because of meningitis.
'One day I asked him how he would know if there was a fire in the house and he answered, "When I smell the smoke', explained Elwell. 'That motivated me to create products that will produce flashing strobe lights and vibrations to alert deaf individuals to fire or smoke, a door bell or phone ringing and more. That was the beginning of Silent Call in 1987.'
The Signature Series includes a fire alarm unit that can be attached to existing fire alarm systems which makes it an important instrument to help hotels, universities, cruise lines, and senior living centers comply with the American Disabilities Act (ADA).
It is encouraging to see manufacturers responding to the research study and taking giant steps in providing peace of mind for safety and security. Soon, maybe all the options can be combined into one system and be more economical than they are now.