When I was being assessed for a cochlear implant (see About This Blog) the lovely staff at the centre I attended referred me for a free smoke alarm for people with hearing loss. With my hearing aids in I can hear the smoke alarms at home quite well (whenever I burn the toast) but without them there would be no chance. So at night, on the rare occasions when my husband is away, I’m quite vulnerable. Well, very vulnerable. Nothing wakes me once I’m asleep with my hearing aids out. A bomb going off might work, but only because of the vibration.
The process of referral was quite a long one, taking several months from start to finish. The Cochlear Implant Centre referred me to the disabilities team at the Social Services Department, who visited to make their own assessment. Then the Social Services people referred me to the Fire Brigade, who visited to make a fire risk assessment. This was a general risk assessment of fire safety issues, not specifically hearing loss related. After that, the very friendly and chatty fire officer who visited confirmed that he would order me the relevant piece of kit. He returned, a few weeks later, and fitted what looks very like an ordinary smoke alarm but which has a receiver that stands on my bedside table, with a lead to a slim plastic box I would put under my pillow if I was sleeping on my own. The receiver looks like this. (It is a Silent Alert SignWave receiver).
Then he tested it.
WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP it bellowed, for all the world like an air raid siren on high alert. Simultaneously a powerful light flashed on and off, like a lighthouse on strobe mode. Whilst all this was happening the box under my pillow jumped up and down like a mad thing, possibly risking a fractured skull if I didn’t react to it quickly enough. In real life, by this time, the whole village would be awake (which is reassuring, so long as they realised it was a fire and not an imminent invasion). “Works, doesn’t it?” the fireman grinned “you wouldn’t sleep through that”.
I certainly wouldn’t, and am very reassured.