Stillwater News Press

February 22, 2014

Live Well 02-23-14

Special smoke alarms alert hearing impaired

LINDA JACO
Stillwater NewsPress

— Will you wake up if your smoke alarm goes off during the night after you have removed your hearing aids?

The Oklahoma Assistive Technology Foundation received a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that may be the answer for you.

OkAT partners with ABLE Tech and Fire Protection Publications at Oklahoma State University to implement this project. ABLE Tech is a federally funded program to assist persons with disabilities to increase access to, provision of and funding for assistive technology. Fire Protection Publications is the largest provider of firefighter training materials and curricula in North America.

Nancy Trench, assistant director, Fire Protection Publications, said, “Oklahoma has more home fire deaths than most other states. Working smoke alarms are the best way to prevent home fire deaths. People who are deaf or who are hard of hearing are especially at risk. They cannot hear standard home smoke alarms.”

This grant-funded project will accept and approve applications from people who are deaf or hard of hearing; install free smoke alarms that meet the unique needs of these individuals; plan a home fire drill specific to each home; and assist with a home safety survey to prevent fires, burns, falls and other common home injuries.

People of all ages with a documented hearing impairment (deaf or hard of hearing), who live in Payne County or in the surrounding area are eligible to apply to have free smoke alarms and alert equipment installed in their home.

How Do I Apply? To qualify: you must reside in Payne County or in the surrounding area; provide proof of your disability; and you must complete and submit an application.

Applications may be downloaded from http://www.okatfoundation.org/smokealarm.html, and be submitted to ABLE Tech by mail, fax or online. You may also call Shelley Gladden with ABLE Tech at (405) 744-4254 and an application will be sent to you.

The project will install smoke detection and alert equipment that uses the latest technology for alerting people to a fire who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The equipment will use a bed shaker, a very loud low frequency bedside alert signal, and in some homes, a strobe light to waken and alert people to a fire. The Lifetone HL150 is an alert device invented in Oklahoma that will be installed as part of this program.

Linda Jaco, director of sponsored programs for the Department of Wellness, noted “It is important to provide life-saving assistive technologies, such as these smoke alarms, and alert devices to people who are deaf or hard of hearing so that they are in control of their own safety.”

Linda Jaco is the director of sponsored programs for the Oklahoma State University Department of Wellness.