Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire

23 Feb 2011The idea of a house fire can be a terrible thought to imagine. All of those personal, irreplaceable belongings, that could be lost forever. Everything that’s been accumulated through hard work over a lifetime, gone, in an instant. Then there’s any pets that are unable to receive assistance and can’t escape on their own. Most importantly though, is human life, which unlike material objects, cannot be replaced, ever.

Most households these days have smoke alarms installed. It’s a proven fact that while sleeping, people don’t smell smoke, which is why smoke alarms are so important. In Australia, it is law to have at least one smoke alarmed installed in every home, in some cases, more than one for multi story homes. And if the home was built after 1997, the smoke alarm must be hard-wired.

There are fines that apply for occupants of homes that aren’t equipped with working smoke alarms. The absence of a working smoke alarm can also jeopardise insurance payouts.

Have you ever thought about people who can’t hear? What would they do in the event of a smoke alarm being triggered during a fire in the middle of the night? People who are hearing impaired have died because of this very reason.

Fires spread rapidly, and even those who can hear a smoke alarm can be beaten by the smoke or the fire. So every second there is to get out, counts.

Luckily, there is a wide variety of smoke alarms for the hearing impaired in case a fire does occur. These systems combine a bright flashing strobe light, a loud beeping noise and an under pillow/mattress vibrating pad. They are set off via a transmitter that is connected to the main smoke alarm and relays the information to the strobe light and vibrating pad, which is said to be the most effective way to rouse someone who is hearing impaired during a fire.

While they have proven to be extremely successful, they don’t come cheap. Ranging between $450 and $800, this lifesaving tool isn’t available to everyone, until now.

The NSW Government, together with the Deaf Society of NSW and the NSW Fire and Rescue Service, have developed a scheme for those who qualify, to receive free specialised smoke alarms.

The NSW Government has committed $2 million to provide free specialised smoke alarms to its residents that are living with a hearing impairment. It has not been announced when this scheme will begin, but hopefully it will be before too many lives are lost. The thought of such an occurrence happening, as the result of not being able to afford something that should be standard for every human being, is very sad realization.

If you have any enquiries, contact the Deaf Society of NSW head office on (02) 88333600 or email [email protected]

At present, the scheme has only been offered to NSW residents, and with the NSW Government leading the way, it may persuade other states may follow further down the track.

For those of you, who don’t require the assistance of a specialized smoke alarm, please remember to change your smoke alarm batteries regularly, it is recommended to do so every six months.

Some household fires that result in death are because people take out the batteries from their smoke alarms because they frequently beep for no reason and then forget to put them back in.

Here’s a handy tip that I learnt from my father-in-law. If your smoke alarm beeps involuntarily or with the slightest bit of smoke, say from burning your toast, try blowing a hair dryer into it for about 30 seconds, this will clear any dust that may be causing it to beep randomly. When he suggested this, I thought he’d gone mad, but after my smoke alarm was going off all the time on its own, I was willing to try anything, and it worked!

Bellman smoke alarm with light and vibrating pad
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Vibracon smoke alarm with light and vibrating pad

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Previous Comments

TONI MUSUMCI from BOTANY SYDNEY posted on 23 Feb 2011
YEAH GOOD IDEA. I HAVE ONE PLS

Micheal body from Nsw sanctuary point 2540 posted on 23 Feb 2011
We are both deaf & we can't afford to buy so many thing we need like door flashing fire alam ph facing just many thing deaf people do need 0417683370 SMS only TTY 02 44438666 or email [email protected]

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