Fire Safety for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Smoke alarms save lives. But those who are deaf or hard of hearing cannot depend on the sound of the alarm to alert them to a fire. There are now a variety of smoke alarms on the market that combine sound and light to alert those with limited hearing that there is a fire in the home.

Facts & Figures

  • 15 of every 16 homes (94%) in the U.S. have at least one smoke alarm.
  • One-half of home fire deaths occur in the 6% of homes with no smoke alarms.
  • Half of all fatal fires start at night when people are asleep.

Safety Tips

  • Remember to factor in residents' hearing limitations when developing and practicing your home fire escape plan.


  • Consider installing a smoke alarm that uses a flashing light, vibration and/or sound to alert people to a fire emergency. The majority of fatal fires occur when people are sleeping, and because smoke can put people into a deeper sleep, it is important to have the necessary early warning of a fire to ensure that they wake up.


  • Consider installing a smoke alarm with an extra loud horn. Some alarms now feature horns that sound an 85-decibel alarm.


  • Be sure that the smoke alarm you buy carries the label of an independent testing laboratory.


  • Keep a communications device nearby. If you use a TTY/TTD device, place it close to the bed so that communication with emergency personnel is possible should fire or smoke trap you in your room.

For more fire and emergency safety information, please visit the following MedicineNet.com areas:

Source: National Fire Protection Association


Last Editorial Review: 6/20/2002



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