The shrill sound of a smoke alarm is very effective at alerting people when there’s a fire, but what if you’re deaf or have hearing difficulties?
That was the concern of 62-year-old Lyn, who lives alone with her assistance dog, Clay, in New Romney. While Clay is excellent at helping out and alerting her when something is wrong, she was concerned about their safety if he was ever poorly and unable to let her know the smoke alarm was sounding.
She booked a home fire safety visit to get some advice, and Shuna from Kent Fire and Rescue Service popped round. After hearing Lyn’s concerns, Shuna installed specialist smoke alarms designed for people with hearing difficulties - a strobe light plugs into the wall and a vibrating pad is placed under the pillow, and both activate if smoke is detected.
Lyn was so happy with her visit that she now encourages others to book. She said: “I tell everyone in my deaf community groups about the service, because it can be really frightening to think you might not hear your smoke alarm – some deaf people even feel they need to wear their hearing aid while they sleep at night.
“Deaf people are at a disadvantage, so it’s really important for people to access services like this, so everyone can receive professional advice and appropriate smoke alarm devices to help them to stay safe.”
Lyn also referred her parents for a visit, who are in their 80s.Shuna went to see them in their Littlestone home and fitted three additional smoke alarms to help keep them safe.
“I want to do all I can to help keep them safe when I’m not there” Lyn said. “Because they are older, mum has dementia, and my dad has Parkinson’s and struggles with mobility.
“Shuna was fantastic and gave them advice about what to do if a fire started at night - she said if they hear the smoke alarm they should call 999, and stay in the bedroom and put a towel or clothing at the bottom of the door to stop smoke coming in, because my dad can't escape quickly. Tips like that are really reassuring.
“No one ever thinks they are in danger until something happens, so I think just booking a visit and making sure you have everything in place to stay safe, is a good idea."
Call Kent Fire and Rescue Service on 0800 923 7000 to find out more about specialist smoke alarms and free home fire safety visits across Kent and Medway.