Equal Fire Protection for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

deafgardRaising the alarm for deaf people in the event of a fire is not something that those unaffected by the issue would ordinarily consider. However, the specific problem of alerting anyone affected by deafness poses an obvious challenge that is beyond the capabilities of standard smoke alarms.

It is Deafblind Awareness Week, Monday the 22nd to Friday the 26th of June, and we are drawing the attention of businesses to some of the innovative solutions available to combat this specific issue.

Deafness poses a fundamental problem for standard smoke alarm systems because they are designed to raise an audible alarm in the event of a fire. If you have ever been in a large public building when a fire alarm system has been triggered, you may very well have noticed that the alarms were supplemented by strobe beacons. These are an additional feature that can be installed to alert anyone unable to hear the alarms, and are becoming commonplace in fire alarm systems covering public buildings.

Strobes are an effective way of adding a visual alert to a mainly audio driven system, but they rely completely on deaf or hard of hearing individuals noticing the lights. In a hotel or guest house the weakness is obvious as a strobe light is unlikely to wake a sleeping person. Indeed such buildings may only have audible alarms fitted.

That’s where the Deafgard from Fireco and the Ei175 system from Ei Electronics come into their own. Both of these systems feature a vibrating pad that is triggered in the event of a smoke alarm going off. These are designed to be placed under pillows and wake users in the event of a fire.

An Ei175 system is connected to and triggered by a smoke alarm and features a strobe light built in to the hardware. Up to 12 devices can be linked to this unit, allowing coverage to be extended across an entire building. It is also possible to integrate further strobes to give additional visual indicators. A wireless version is also available to reduce the installation costs.

Deafgards work on a different principle, in that they are wire-free and sound activated. When an alarm goes off within audible range of the unit, the Deafgard ‘hears’ the alarm and the vibration pad as well as the small strobe in the Deafgard are engaged. This has the obvious advantage that Deafgards are portable and can be used in multiple locations. This makes them a popular choice for hotels and guest houses looking to provide protection for deaf or hard of hearing guests, as well as deaf individuals that travel extensively.

These inventive solutions exist to ensure everyone is afforded an equal level of protection when a fire is detected. For further information or assistance, please contact our customer service team at support@safelincs.co.uk or ring us on 0800 612 6537.

Smoke alarms for the deaf

Did you know that there are smoke alarm systems specifically designed to alert deaf people of a fire? One model, the Deafgard, is an acoustically triggered unit that is activated when the fire alarm system is sounding. The Deafgard comprises of a vibration pad and a strobe light. The pad is placed under the pillow at night and should the fire alarm sound, the pad will begin to vibrate and the strobe light is triggered, waking the deaf or hard of hearing person.

This alarm is portable and will work in conjunction with most smoke alarm systems giving the user peace of mind on holiday as well as at home.

On the other end of the technical spectrum is a new invention that has been launched in Tokyo for alerting the deaf through the sense of smell. This new alarm sprays wasabi vapour when activated by a smoke alarm. The vapour is reported to be so strong that it will wake the sleeping occupant within two minutes.

Although this is a novel idea it is unclear what life span this alarm has and how long the wasabi scent lasts, this is important to ensure that regular checks of the alarm can be made to ensure that it is in good working order.

We will have to watch the UK market for the first signs of the new scent alarm to learn more. In the meantime, if you require any further information on the means of alerting the deaf or hard of hearing to a fire, please visit the dedicated Hard of Hearing section on our website.