Whenever I see a news report about a hotel fire, my blood runs cold. I have to travel regularly for work, with overnight stays, and I worry a lot about what would happen to me if there was a fire while I was asleep. (This is a fear which will be alleviated when I get a Hearing Dog but in the meantime, it’s a real concern of mine. It also drove me to found my business Access Solutions.)
Without my hearing aids — such as when in the shower or while sleeping — I wouldn’t be alerted by a standard fire alarm, so I need something which flashes (in the bathroom) and something which flashes/vibrates when I’m in bed.
Whenever I go to stay in a hotel, I always ask for a flashing/vibrating fire alarm and when they can’t provide one, I worry about what would happen if there was a fire. Would someone risk their life to come and get me?
When I give talks (to hearing people) about living with hearing loss, I often remark that when you’re diagnosed with hearing loss or when you’re fitted with a hearing aid, you’re not then taken to another room and shown all the assistive technology that’s available to you. (Well, not in my experience anyway!)
This is why many people with severe/profound hearing loss might not know about flashing/vibrating fire alarms, let alone know about their rights to request one when staying away from home. Did you know about these devices? Have you ever used one?
Despite it being law in the UK for hotels to provide such devices for deaf/deafened guests, there have been many instances since becoming deafened where the hotelier has not been able to provide me with one and they have been seemingly unaware of their legal responsibilities. (In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 and UK fire legislation both demand that provision is made for disabled people staying in what they refer to as ‘paid sleeping accommodation’.)
It’s the same for self-catering accommodation in the UK: they too are obliged to provide deaf/deafened guests with the appropriate safety equipment and an evacuation plan but all too often the fire safety risk assessments I’ve seen refer only to people with mobility issues and visual impairment but not to people with hearing loss or people who are Deaf. Does this worry you if you’re away from home alone — or if you and your partner both have severe/profound hearing loss?
I’d be interested to hear your experiences of the fire safety equipment you’ve been offered while away from home, wherever in the world you’ve been. I’m writing from here in the UK but, from my travels, l know that not all countries insist on smoke alarms being fitted in holiday accommodation, so I’m interested to learn more of your experiences. <!– Please share here or on the Phonak Facebook page. –>