The piercing sound of an activated smoke alarm is normally sufficient to awake even the heaviest sleeper – but it could very well be a different story if they happen to be deaf too.
There is every chance that the deaf could sleep through the noise of a conventional alarm until it is too late, and they are overcome by smoke and fumes from a fire. Even people who have hearing aids are likely to take them out at night, therefore being put at risk.
National Deaf Awareness Week runs from May 19th to 25th. We think that makes this the perfect time to ask what smoke alarm arrangements you have in place for deaf members of your family, or if you run any kind of business which offers sleeping accommodation which could be used by the deaf.
In the latter case there’s a mandatory requirement, enshrined in law as part of the Disability Discrimination Act 2004, for you to have adequate provision for the safety of the deaf and hard of hearing.
A device which provides that care is Deafgard, which is activated when a fire alarm sounds. It has a vibrating disc that goes under the pillow, accompanied by a flashing strobe-type light. It complies with DDA legislation, making it ideal for hotels, care homes and other places where sleepers might be at risk.
Steve Apter, the chief fire officer on the Isle of Wight, says it is vital that people who are deaf or hard of hearing have the right smoke alarm technology to protect them, and that it should be tested regularly to make sure it remains in full working order. He added: “A specialist alarm system provides valuable time to escape from a house blaze. If anyone is unsure about the alarm they need they should contact their local fire service to arrange a free home fire safety check.”