Top Fire Alarm for Hard of Hearing (21 Products) | Your Complete Resource for Finding the Right One

Audio notifications are the perfect solution designed for people with hearing abilities. It gives them complete access to an emergency event without any issues as long as they are present near the building.

However, if you have hearing loss, mainstream fire and smoke alarms are a complete fail.

What if you slept at night or during the day, you removed your hearing aids or cochlear implant, and were unable to hear the horn or audio alarms?  What if you find an emergency fire official breaking your door to rescue you because an alarm went off? What if the building evacuated, and you’re left alone, still working away?

What if the worst happens and it is too late?

No one wants to be caught off guard or left alone to fend for themselves in the case of an emergency. A better solution is needed for people with hearing loss. 

This article is going to explain everything that you need to know.

Be aware fires can start anytime

Most of us are not always thinking about a fire. Fires can happen at any time. Fire can start in many ways. At home, fires can start from a candle, portable heaters, cooking, cigarettes, or electronics. At work depending on the nature of your work, some places are more hazardous than others.

You will never know when it happens, as with any major events in life. That is why protecting yourself, others, and your belongings well in advance is important.

Being prepared for a potential fire

Everybody should develop good safety practices. A prevention mindset can save money and keep you and others safe. 

You’ll need to develop an emergency plan, knowing your exits to get out of the building no matter where you are. This applies to your home, too. Decide now how you will exit your home or office if there’s a fire based on every room you are in.

Most importantly, you’ll also need to look into setting up an alarm system for the deaf and hard of hearing.

While laws help provide access, they meet the minimum requirements. They are not always giving you full protection in all situations.

Buddy systems are often used as a way to help. It is good to help our neighbors and those around us. But events like fire can happen quickly. 

Similar to the announcement on the plane that tells you to place the oxygen mask on first, sometimes you need to evacuate immediately. There isn’t time to reach out and help others.

Hearing children can’t wake up to high-pitched alarms

Children are most vulnerable to high-pitched horn alarm sounds, especially when they are sleeping. Adults will need to be responsible for waking up the child. Unless other forms of alarms are available, a child, particularly a pre-teen, will not wake up to traditional smoke alarms.

Choosing the right smoke alarm for the hearing-impaired

Potential for obstruction: Visual smoke detectors, like strobe light fire alarms, have the potential to be obstructed. This could be due to the room’s size or the alarms’ visibility. At times, visual alarms are placed on the wall in commercial buildings. However, furniture, like dividers or cubicles, can block a person from seeing any illumination of the alarm.

Availability of electricity: Some alarms only run on electricity. If the power supply is cut off, you would need to ensure that there is a backup power supply or the need for some way to receive still 

Concerns for epileptic seizures: Visual fire alarms can potentially send people with epilepsy into seizures. A visual fire alarm system may need to be swapped to make the environment accessible.

Accessibility, including the outdoors: People are often not always in one room. We travel to different spots and rooms. Sometimes alarms can be only available outside. An alarm is required in close proximity or multiple alarms for one large room. Alarm notifications need to be accessible to the person anywhere.

Building types: There are various types of indoor spaces that people can be in: malls, offices, hospitals, homes, apartments, condos, boats, and hotels. Not all fire alarms can be used in the same building. It’s something to keep in mind.

DIY installation vs. professional installation: Some alarms, particularly the hardwire ones, will require hardwiring. Hardwiring are best done by electricians who understand the building code and safely install it. 

Sleeping arrangements: When people sleep, certain alarms are not effective at waking people up. You’ll need to factor in vibration alarms as well.

Home country: Some alarms, typically sound detectors, can only pick up T-3 patterns. These are the smoke alarms regulated in the US for homes. They are two high-frequency beeps followed by a silence.

Noise Disturbance: Alarms that have the potential to sound above 90 dB will cause severe ear damage to those with hearing. If you live with people without hearing loss, not everyone must also lose their hearing.

Deep Sleepers: Deep sleepers need strong vibrations to wake them up. Exploring bed shakers or smartwatches with strong vibration is a must.

Type of hearing loss: Some alarms do not have to have flashing or vibrating sensors to be effective. Depending on the hearing loss, some people benefit from alarms with low frequencies or increased volume (100+ dB).


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What are the fire alarm notification devices for hearing-impaired people?

There are four types of fire alarms available in the market. Here’s a shortcut to each one below.

  1. Built-in Deaf-friendly Fire Alarm Systems >>
  2. Fire Alarm Listeners Devices >>
  3. Smartwatch Fire Alarm Listeners >>
  4. Smartphone Sound Awareness Apps >>

Built-in Deaf-friendly Fire Alarm Systems

1. Silent Call Medallion Series 

How it works:

Silent Call requires purchasing multiple devices. You’ll need a receiver, a  bed shaker, a body warn receiver, and a smoke detector transmitter. 

Each part is designed as a stand-alone device but works together to create a fire alarm system. The system can be made for carbon monoxide as well as other alerts.

Fire alarms/smoke detectors are required to be installed on the ceiling. A bed shaker can be placed under the pillow.

Benefits

  • Wireless coverage up to 500 feet (150 meters).
  • Prevents walls from obstructing wireless signals.
  • Operates on batteries.

Limitations

  • You’ll need more than one smoke detector to pick up smoke.
  • The low-battery red LED light might not be visible during the daytime from the ceiling.
  • No capability of connecting to a building fire alarm system (in apartments, condos, hotels, etc.)

2. Bellman and Symfon Safety Solutions

How it works:

Bellman and Symfon offer a package that contains the following:

  • Fire alarm transmitter
  • Flashing receiver or alarm clock receiver (for bed)
  • Bed shaker or pager receiver sold separately

A transmitter detects smoke, fire, or heat and alerts the person using a receiver. Some receivers allow for additional add-ons, like bed shakers. You can use a pager directly with the transmitter.

A fire alarm must be installed or nailed to the wall where the receivers can rest on a table. The bed shaker can be under the pillow, and the pager can be clipped on the body.

Benefits

  • Flashing lights are included.
  • All are battery-operated.
  • Modern designs that appeal to the design-conscious.

Limitations

  • Not enough illumination to see the alarm without the lights being made with strobe lights.
  • It wouldn’t work with one fire alarm transmitter. Need to replace all fire alarms to receive alerts.
  • No capability of connecting to a building fire alarm system (in apartments, condos, hotels, etc.)

3. Deaf Alerter

How it works:

Deaf Alerter device is a push notification or radio device. It sends an alert to the pager with notification of an emergency. The alert is a radio system that links and connects to the building’s existing fire alarm system with a transmitter. 

See also  How to Hike Safely while Deaf and Hard of Hearing on Nature Trails

Messages can be displayed on the pager to communicate information. Software is used to assist with written communication to the pager.

This device can be used in the hotel with another charging base device that can attach a bed shaker.

Benefits

  • Suitable for public spaces and office buildings.
  • Support multiple buildings.
  • Private alert messages can be sent.

Limitations

  • Requires engineers to install.
  • Not easily available for personal use.
  • Visitors who have hearing loss need to make themselves known to the building.

4. First Alert Smoke Alarm with LED Strobe Light

How it works:

First Alert is a fire alarm that is hard-wired using electricity. The alarm can communicate with other fire alarms with similar brands in the building. You will need to install it according to the building code.

The alarm is good for detecting smoke, not fire or heat. Once smoke is detected, the alarm will go off.

Benefits

  • Battery backup when there’s no power.
  • If one unit of First Alert alarm goes off, other First Alert alarms will also trigger.
  • Works well for a home or a single apartment/condo unit.

Limitations

  • Requires an electrician to set up (additional time and expense).
  • Flashing lights may not wake you up.
  • Cannot connect with other none-First Alert fire alarms in a commercial building.

5. Krown KA300SD Visual Emergency Alert Package

How it works:

A Krown transmitter is placed next to an existing fire alarm. This fire alarm with strobe light is listening for the alarm to trigger. Once the alarm sounds, the base receiver will activate and begin to flash to alert.

Alert signals can be a strobe light at the base of the receiver or the bed shaker attached to the receiver to use during the night.

Benefits

  • Strobe lights available on the receiver.
  • It can work with an existing fire alarm system, no need to replace.
  • The base receiver can include their weather alert transmitter for nighttime awareness.

Limitations

  • Requires multiple purchases for multiple fire alarms. The transmitter covers only 100ft.
  • Requires purchase of both the receiver and transmitter.
  • Need to have more receivers during the day as you move around the building.

6. Serene Innovations CentralAlert

How it works:

A Serene transmitter can be placed next to an existing fire alarm or hardwired to connect to a fire alarm system. Once an alarm goes off, the transmitter will send a wireless signal to the base, which is sold separately. The base receiver will alert the person by flashing a light.

Benefits

  • Ten transmitters can work with one receiver.
  • The base receiver has flashing lights, a bed shaker, and a loud alarm.
  • Strobe lights are built into the receiver.

Limitations

  • If not hardwired, it can work within 200 ft of an alarm. You will need to buy more than one transmitter.
  • Picks up T3/T4 alarm sounds more common in the home and in some provinces in North America.
  • You need to be near the receiver at all times.

7. Home Safe Network

How it works:

Home Safe Network is a collection of devices that connect and communicate with each other. The fire alarm operates to detect fire and smoke. It

Benefits

  • All devices on the system connect together.
  • Overs an app and bedside device with a bedshaker.
  • Easy tracking which alarm has sounded.

Limitations

  • It needs to be installed in the ceiling but requires no wiring.
  • Rely on an app only for notifications during the day.
  • Devices operate on its own. You will need to replace existing devices.

Fire Alarm Listeners

8. Lifetone Bedside Fire Alarm and Clock

How it works:

Lifetone is an all-in-one fire alarm with a strobe light that notifies you of fire. It doesn’t require multiple devices but continuously monitors sounds to detect fire alarm sounds. 

The way the alarm can alert you in two ways: voice command telling you there’s a fire or the vibrating shaker for the bed.

Benefits

  • Alarm clock included. Not an add-on.
  • Speaking alarm with a voice command.
  • Uses a low-frequency alarm (520 Hz): good for mild to moderate hearing loss.

Limitations

  • The device is limited for daytime – need a device for every room. 
  • The flashing alarm doesn’t contain strobe lights, which are the most effective for waking up.
  • People in specific geographic areas may find the device will not pick up their alarm (T3 alarm tone only).

9. Ring Alarm Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Listener

The Ring has a listener that you place next to your fire alarm. Once your alarm goes off, the listener will communicate wirelessly with the Ring Alarm Base. The Base will be responsible for sending a notification to your smartphone.

Benefits

  • You can use your existing fire alarms.
  • You can add on to Ring’s existing products, like their security system.
  • Learn about alarms while you are aware from home.

Limitations

  • Not suitable for businesses, commercial spaces, or alarms that are not T3/T4 pattern alarms.
  • Internet connectivity is required for you to receive any notification.
  • Need to be near the fire alarm (6 inches away) – Purchase of multiple listeners required.

10. Sonic Alert HomeAware II Signaling Hub

How it works:

Sonic Alert is designed to help you use your existing fire alarm system. You’ll not need to replace your fire alarm system. It can also pick up your carbon monoxide detector as well.

The device repeatedly checks that it operates correctly every 2-3 minutes. Once your built-in alarm goes off, the Sonic Alert will be triggered and send an alert to the bed shaker or pager (sold separately) or flash the light on the base and send a much louder audible alarm. You’ll also receive a text on what the alarm is on the screen.

You can also set up the device to send an SMS with an additional subscription.

Benefits

  • Use your existing fire alarm – no need to replace built-in fire alarms.
  • Send alerts to a smartphone (additional subscription)It uses.
  • Strobe lights available to flash an emergency.

Limitations

  • It’s limited to an area of less than 1000 sq ft. A multi-unit home will require more than one at an extra cost.
  • Picks up T3 (Smoke alarm) and T4 (Carbon monoxide alarm) only. For some provinces or other countries outside of North America, it will not work, as well as picking up low battery beeping noises.
  • Extra loud alarms can damage the hearing of other hearing family members

11. Apple HomePod

The HomePod has a built-in microphone allowing the device to listen to background noises. Once it picks up an alarm, it sends a notification to your Apple Watch, iPhone, and iPad.

For those that are not nearby, the Apple HomeKit camera will allow you to check the room.

Benefits

  • You can use your existing alarm systems.
  • You can check in your space via a remote video camera.
  • Battery base (sold separately) in case of power failure.

Limitations

  • Limited to operating on Apple devices.
  • It may not work in commercial environments.
  • Apple doesn’t want you to rely on the device for emergency purposes.

12. Visualfy

How it works:

Visualfy single all-in-one base that listens for background noises. Once a fire alarm has been detected, the base glows and sends wireless notifications to either your smartphone, smartwatch (iOS and Android), or smart lights.

In a public space, the alert systems will operate like the home.

Benefits

  • Alerts to multiple sounds all in one.
  • Send notifications to a smartphone and smart lights.
  • Send notification to smartwatch app.

Limitations

  • It doesn’t have strobe lights, which have stronger illumination to see during the daylight.
  • The base may require multiple purchases for a multistory home or building.
  • Vibration strength is as good as the watch you own.

13. Amazon Echo / Alexa

Using an app, you can set up Routines that allow you to set which Echo device to listen to which sounds you want to listen to, and what the device should do.

Companies like See Sound and Smart Ear created similar products in the last five years, but their website is currently down.

14. Earzz

How it works:

The Earzz is one of the smallest base technologies, a smart home monitor technology. It has the ability to listen to sounds and send notifications to tablets, watches, and smartphones. 

Users use the app to customize their preferences.

Benefits

  • Notification is sent from any of the activated devices.
  • Uses both power and battery.
  • You can record sounds for better detection.

Limitations

  • The network is required to send notifications wirelessly.
  • Purchase multiple bases to cover the home.
  • Night-time alerts may not work for everyone.

15. SafeAwake Smoke Alarm Aid

How it works:

SafeAwake is a all-in-one listening device tunes in for fire alarms sounds. It alerts users with a bed shaker as soon as an alarm is detected.

Benefits

  • Produce low frequency alarms for those with high pitch hearing loss.
  • Bed shaker included.
  • No hardwiring, compact size with plug-in electric and backup battery

Limitations

  • Only T3 fire alarm – wouldn’t be useful out of the country.
  • Functionally not suitable to use during the day.
  • Will not pick up any low battery signal.

Smartwatch Fire Alarm Listener

16. SoundWatch

How it works:

Using an Android watch, you can download the Soundwatch app to use the microphone on your watch to listen to background noises. Watch sensors vibrate to notify you of the sound.

Benefits

  • Always on you. Notifications come with you.
  • You get the length of time the sound has been detected.
  • You can see how confident the app is with detecting a fire alarm.

Limitations

  • Vibration strength is as good as your watch.
  • Only available on Android.
  • There is no option for flashing lights if desired.

17. Neosensory

How it works:

Neosensory is an all-in-one wearable wristband with a built-in microphone to listen and pick up alarms to send you an alert.

Benefits

  • Alerts are always with you.
  • Get alerts to several noises around you.
  • Flexible to choose and limit the number of sounds

Limitations

  • You need to train yourself to remember what the vibration means.
  • Vibration strength may not be strong enough to wake up for some.
  • No visuals to indicate the alerts.

Smartphone Sound Awareness Apps

18. Lisnen App

Here at Lisnen, we’re software-first and brand-agnostic. We intend to be accessible to all platforms to allow access.

We’re driving to improve the out-of-home experiences for people with hearing loss. While it may seem like we share similar challenges as other smartphone apps, we are an early start-up making progress to change this.

We have a big vision. We see the potential to build accessible spaces using the next generation of technologies.


19. Android Sound Detection

How it works:

Download the Live Transcribe app or check your accessibility feature to turn it on.  Your app will automatically be listening to background noises.

Benefits

  • Available for free if you own an Android device.
  • Allow you to record sounds.
  • Can work together with speech-to-text app.

Limitations

  • Available for only Android device.
  • Battery drainage is a current problem.
  • Vibration is only as good as the device itself.

20. Apple Sound Recognition

How it works:

Apple offers a free accessibility feature to use your smartphone’s microphone and detect alarm sounds by sending a notification alert or connecting to an Apple device. Turn on the Sound Recognition feature to begin detection.

Benefits

  • Available if you own an iOS device.
  • Allows you to record sounds to improve detection.
  • Apple devices can communicate with each other: more than one device to receive notifications.

Limitations

  • Limited to operating on their brand and device.
  • Battery drainage is a current problem. 
  • Vibration is only as good as the device itself.

21. Talov – SpeakLiz

How it works:

Like all sound awareness apps, you turn on your microphone using the app. It operates in the background while waiting to listen to sounds and alerts you to noises that you made for your preferences.

Benefits

  • Multiple languages support and 300 sounds.
  • App with multiple features, including speech-to-text .
  • Focus on detecting only emergency sounds.

Limitations

  • No other device pairing – the app is only available.
  • Focuses on push notifications; no other way to get notifications.
  • Generalizes emergency sounds, no indication of specifics.

BeAware had similar sound awareness features but no longer available. The SoundAlert, app hasn’t been updated in a while.


Common Questions You May Have: FAQs

Are there fire alarms for the deaf?

Yes, fire alarms are designed intentionally for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. These alarms include a visual component, a haptic sensor, or increased volume.

What is the fire alarm for the deaf and hard of hearing? 

A fire alarm for the deaf and hard of hearing is an alarm that includes a strobe fire alarm with flashing lights, a bed shaker or wearable band that vibrates, or a smart alarm that sends a notification to your smartphone.

How can a deaf person hear a fire alarm?

They can’t. A fire alarm blares at a frequency that doesn’t meet the minimum level of frequency that a person with profound hearing loss can hear. As a result, there are custom technologies to make emergency notification inclusive for people with hearing loss.

How loud is too loud for a fire alarm?

The typical fire alarm system will be at a minimum 70-90 dB range. Some alarm systems can increase the loudness to 120 dB. For people with normal hearing, this loudness level requires ear protection. Otherwise, their hearing will be damaged.

What is a visual smoke detector?

Visual smoke detectors are typically alarms that can pick up smoke in the area and repeatedly flash a light on and off when the alarm is activated. The lights can be photoelectric light  Smoke detectors operate for one specific area. You’ll need a fire alarm, which is a different technology from a smoke detector, to send an alarm to the whole building. 

What Is a vibrating smoke alarm?

A vibrating smoke alarm is a smoke alarm that has a shaker. It relies on haptic feedback to notify people using our sense of touch. Vibrating smoke alarms are used as bedside fire alert systems for the hearing impaired.

What Is a strobe light smoke alarm?

A strobe light smoke alarm is a specific type of visual smoke detector and alarm. This alarm uses a special type of light with a lumination power called candela. A strobe light needs to meet a minimum of 75 candela to meet the accessibility laws in the US.

Where can I get a free fire alarm?

In the US, Red Cross offers free devices, like fire alarms for deaf and hard of hearing. You can also get free alarms from the local fire department.

Containing the flames

The most important thing to do is not to panic when you see a flame. When you are stressed, you can weaken your ability to think correctly and take the best action possible. Deep breathing can help you remain calm. 

You should always have access to a fire extinguisher nearby. If you do not have one, get one for each floor you occupy and rooms according to the manufacturers. Remember, you don’t have

You don’t have time, so you need to act fast. You will have less than three minutes to contain the smoke to a reasonable level. Without losing consciousness, the human body can’t survive in a smokey area for over three minutes.  If you are unsuccessful, you should evacuate immediately.

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