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Deafness and personal safety in the home


We all rely on our senses to alert us to danger. We use our vision to see obstacles and our hearing to listen for alarms, traffic or intruders. Close up we use our sense of touch to feel heat or sharp objects and our sense of smell for such things as smoke or gas. When someone is deaf an important early warning system is missing.

There are numerous alarms or bells in most houses - from an alarm clock to fire alarm, from the phone to oven, microwave, computer, doorbell and security system. The consequences of not hearing these alarms could be as serious as death if you don’t hear a fire alarm or the security system to warn of an intruder, through to inconvenience when you miss a phone call, the door bell or the oven bell warning you the food is cooked. Alarms and noises alert us to appliances not being turned on/off or not working properly. By not responding we risk personal injury or costly repair bills.

Many of these alarms can be replaced, augmented or connected to flashing lights or personal vibrating systems. But it is our other senses we use to make sure of our safety. We feel appliances for their vibration to make sure they are turned off/on before we use them. Often through touch we can tell if an appliance isn’t working correctly (eg the washing machine is off balance). We look at the taps in the kitchen and bathroom to ensure they are not still running and we physically check security locks and doors.

Pete, a recent cochlear implantee told about some of his personal safety issues in the house. From his blog http://deafinitely.wordpress.com/ he describes how his wife and family are away and he was enjoying being deaf again. “I got to admit the first week with everyone gone was bliss. I would get home from work and promptly take off my cochly (sic) things and revel in the absolute silence…And then a few friends who were concerned for my well-being (hey!! I can cook!!) would knock on the front door…the side door…the back door…to no avail!!!! Me? Well I was blissfully unaware. And loving it!! Seriously though, it’s actually quite dangerous being 100% deaf. I was cooking a steak between the footy and beer and I wondered why the cat was going ape-s**t!! I put on the chochly (sic) thingy and was abruptly confronted with the fire alarm noise blasting away. No fire …just a burnt steak….lotsa smoke and stuff. Needless to say, when I cook now and my wife is away, I go to my favourite restaurant. Nice people, no fire alarms!”

Deaf people feel appliances for their vibration to make sure they are turned off/on before/after we use them. Often through touch we can tell if an appliance isn’t working correctly (eg the washing machine hasn’t started because the door isn’t shut properly). We look at taps in the kitchen and bathroom to ensure they are not still running and we physically check security locks and doors. I have a strong sense of smell and am often alerted to food burning before others in the house.

Many house alarms can be replaced, augmented or connected to flashing lights or personal vibrating systems. But we often develop our other senses to make sure of our safety in the home.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Felicity Bleckly. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Felicity Bleckly. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Felicity Bleckly for details.

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