Smoke alarms save lives. But those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing cannot depend on the sound of the regular alarm to alert them to a fire.
People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing should use alarms with strobe (flashing) lights that have been tested by an independent testing laboratory. The alarms for sleeping areas with strobe lights are required to be of a special high intensity that can wake a sleeping person.
Most major smoke alarm companies offer alarms with strobe lights. For information on availability and pricing, go to the manufacturers' Web sites. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of smoke alarms that meet U.L. standard 1971 for people who are deaf or hard of hearing include:
NFPA's comprehensive guide on Smoke Alarms for People Who Are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing
- Smoke alarms are available for people who are deaf (those with profound hearing loss). These alarms use strobe lights to wake the person. Vibration notification appliances, such as pillow or bed shakers, are required and are currently activated by the sound of a smoke alarm.
- As people age, their ability to hear high-pitched sounds decreases. Research from NFPA’s Research Foundation showed that older adults are unlikely to respond to alarms with strobe lights.
- Older adults or other people who are hard of hearing (those with mild to severe hearing loss) can use a device that emits a mixed, low-pitched sound. In its current form, this device is activated by the sound of a traditional smoke alarm.
- Always choose equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Make sure everyone in your home understands and reacts to the signal (light, vibration, or sound) used in their situation.
- All smoke alarms should be tested at least monthly. Replace smoke alarms and equipment for people who are deaf or hard or hearing according to manufacturer’s recommendations.