Protecting The Hearing Impaired In Case of Fire

There isn't much choice for fire warning systems for people that have some hearing impairment. While innovation is needed, we look at some products that currently fill the role.

A lot of challenges exist in a fire that we can respond to. The primary aim being that we increase the chances of those getting out of the precarious situation.

People with impediments have extra challenges that need to be taken into account. The majority of fire alarms are auditory so leaving those with hearing loss more susceptible to the risks posed fires and any associated smoke.

With this in mind, it is a good idea to learn about the different smoke alarms for deaf people that are available. For people who have hearing loss, as well as other relevant safety devices. Some of the items we go over include:

  • Sprinkler systems
  • Using a fire extinguisher
  • Using a fire blanket
  • Strobe lights as a warning system
  • Vibration appliances in the bed or under the pillow
  • Low pitched alarms for those with acute deafness


A sprinkler system can not only alert a person (and not relying on sound to do so) but also help extinguish the fire. These could go a long way into reducing the damage caused by the fire and resulting smoke.

Fire Extinguisher

It is advisable to have many fire extinguishers around a building. There are areas where fires are far more common but by having many extinguishers around a building it increases the chance of having one to hand. A recommendation would be to have one on every level of a building.

Make sure that fire extinguishers have their pressure gauge checked. A complete fire extinguisher breakdown and inspection should be undertaken every six years.

“Helping to provide everyone with an escape if there's ever a fire is paramount to showing that we mean serious business for all of our citizens”

Fire Blanket

Fire blankets are most effective against early detected and smaller fires. A fire blanket can also be used on a person as extra protection if they were to wrap themselves in it when exiting a building. It is smart to have a fire blanket stored in a garage, car or home.

Strobe Lights

For the hearing impaired, strobe fire alarms can alert the presence of any smoke. Even if an individual is sleeping, flashing lights can alert them.

These products will also have different flash patterns to differentiate between different warnings. It is beneficial to consider having strobe lights fitted in a building.

Vibration Appliances

Vibration can help a hearing impaired individual who might not be able to getup by audio of smoke detectors. An example of such a device is a bed shaker.

Here we have a device that can hook up to a fire alarm and place underneath a pillow. Causing the bed shaker to vibrate when smoke is detected and flash ‘FIRE’ on its screen. It is usually the sound of the alarm that causes this device to become activated.

Organisations, such as The Red Cross install a limited number of specialised bedside alarms for the deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Low-Pitched Alarms

For people with mild hearing loss, alarms hold the potential for being an effective safety measure. These devices become activated by the sound of a traditional smoke alarm. The low-pitched sound is said to be more effective than the sound of a regular one for waking up people of any age group.

Regardless of whether we are talking about standard fire safety solutions or modified options for the hard of hearing. There are some steps that are recommendable to take to the operation of these devices.

For example, the interconnection of smoke alarms is recommended. As this way, when one sounds, they all will. This is an important step for a larger one-floor building or a multi-story setup.

This is as the sound from a device may reduce to a level where it is not loud enough to provide a hearable warning. Keep in mind that where the good-of-hearing can pick up on sounded alarms they have the chance to alert the deaf and hard-of-hearing. You can have a licensed electrician install hard-wired multiple-station alarms.

Thanks to developing technology wireless alarms are also available.

It is also good to have an understanding of the different types of smoke alarm technologies. The two categories are ionization and photoelectric.

An ionization type is generally more responsive to flaming fires. A photoelectric alarm would be more responsive to smouldering fires.

One thing you may want to do is have both alarm types installed as you would then cover the advantages of both technologies.

Finally, as we wrap up this article looking at how we can protect the hearing impaired in the case of fire let’s go over a few pointers. We are sure you know these pointers only too well, but let’s be honest, when talking about fire safety it is not something you can go over to many times. The more refreshments, the better.

Smoke alarms should test out at least on a monthly basis. This can be done by pushing their test buttons. If you receive an indicator from the device that the battery is low, replace it right away. Never wait to do it, you might forget and then it could be too late in the actual event of a fire.

Quite a lot of them come with a 10-year battery included. Also, those that are hard-wired alarms should be replaced when they reach 10 years old or even before.

We are hopeful that you have picked up some handy tips as you reach the end of this article. We all hope we never find ourselves in a situation involving fire, but in case we ever do it is of paramount importance that we know what to do if it does happen.

Action on Hearing Loss had a shop that provided really good quality items, but as of May 2020, they stopped. The site has been acquired by RNID and they refer you to FireBlitz's shop. The link does refer you to other places to help any affected individuals, including devices for the hearing impaired.

To read more articles like this, go to our Home Alarms page.


  1. Smoke alarm systems by RNID
  2. Safety materials for people who are deaf by NFPA

About The Author

Reece Thompson: Reece has been involved in property in one way or another for the past 10 years. He's gained a lot of experience when it comes to the home, kitchen and garden. He shares his knowledge with enthusiasm and honesty.