Red Cross installing specialized smoke alarms for deaf hard-of-hearing

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — We’ve all heard how important it is to install a standard smoke alarm in your house, but what about for the deaf and hard of hearing?

Smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a fire by more than half. That’s why the Red Cross is making sure everyone is able to be alerted to a fire in their home.

The Red Cross offers a specific alarm that uses more than just sound to alert people of a fire. James Love is the executive director of the Rochester chapter of the American Red Cross. He said they’ve been installing bed shaker alarms for three years.

“In the deaf community, we offer what are called bed shaker alarms which if you have a fire these bed shaker alarms actually wake an individual up if they’re sleeping. They hook to a regular smoke alarm and again they provide that early warning in case of a fire,” said Love.

After installing a standard smoke alarm in your home you’ll then install a bed shaker alarm. When this alarm goes off after detecting smoke, the bed shaker alarm will pick up on the frequency from the beeping and shake the bed through a device placed under the mattress.

Gary Behm is the associate vice president of academic affairs at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. He’s deaf himself and said this safety feature is very important.

“Most deaf people don’t wear hearing aids especially when they’re sleeping so they’d be completely deaf to any external sounds sometimes smelling the smoke is oftentimes being too late to react,” said Behm.

The Red Cross said the bed shaker alarms are limited in Rochester right now but they’re always working on getting more.

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