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Hearing Loss & Smoke Detectors:
What You Need To Know
The audiogram below shows average hearing loss for adults as a function of age. As age increases, the ability to hear high-pitched sounds decreases. The standard signal emitted by most residential smoke detectors falls between 3000-4000 Hz (red shaded area).1 When individuals are sleeping, signals may need to be as much as 40 dB louder for a person to wake up.2
Current Research on Smoke Detectors and Hearing Loss
Majority of residential fire fatalities occur between 11:00 PM and 7:00 AM when most people are sleeping3 (and not wearing hearing aids)
Nearly 50% of adults with mild to moderately severe hearing loss (hearing test results that fall in the yellow area below) DO NOT wake up to an active smoke detector4
Current residential smoke detectors may not be sufficient to arouse sleeping adults with hearing loss to wake up in a timely matter or in time to vacate the premises safely
Talk to your audiologists about bedside solutions designed to work with current smoke detectors and documented as effective in waking individuals with hearing loss to a activated smoke detector
- Lee, A. (2005) The audibility of smoke alarms in residential homes. CPSC-ES-0503. Washington, DC: US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Bruck, D., Ball, M., Thomas, I., and Rouillard, V. (2008). How does pitch and pattern of a signal affect auditory arousal threshold? Journal of Sleep Research, Jun 18(2): 196-203.
- National Fire Protection Association 72 (2002). National Fire Alarm Code. Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, Inc. Section 184.108.40.206.
- Bruck, D & Thomas, I. (2009). Smoke alarms for sleeping adults who are hard-of-hearing: comparison of auditory, visual, and tactile signals. Ear and Hearing, 30(1): 73-80.