Important Information for Seniors
As more and more studies are conducted we are learning that seniors are at even higher
risk than previously thought. Getting older often means a little bit of hearing
loss. The problem, however, is that hearing loss is generally high frequency
hearing loss. This type of mild hearing loss is not usually dangerous or
even problematic (TV may sound fuzzy, or, one may require a hearing aid). However,
there is at least one very important device that makes a high frequency sound that many
cannot hear: Smoke Alarms. Check you current smoke alarms and make sure you can
hear them clearly; and, make sure the sound is loud enough to wake you
The Loudenlow has been designed to address this issue of frequency loss by making a
much lower (and louder) frequency. The article below is a re-print of the NFPA's
recent findings. (Veterans, please note, you can probably receive a Loudenlow
free of charge if you contact your local VA.).
Reducing fire deaths in older adults
NFPA Journal®, September/October 2006
The use of
smoke alarm and signaling systems is associated with a reduction in fire
fatalities in the general population—reducing the chances of dying in a fire by
40 to 50 percent when present. However, recent studies suggest that older
adults may not fully benefit from conventional smoke alarm systems,
particularly during sleeping hours because of the prevalence of high frequency
In 2005, the Fire Protection Research
Foundation received a Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and
Safety grant to assess and optimize the performance requirements for alarm and
signaling systems to meet the needs of an aging population.
portion of the Foundation’s study was a series of sleep studies, carried out at
the Victoria University of Technology in Australia, which provided insights
into the human behavior aspects of waking older adults exposed to varying types
of signals and varying sound levels.
older adults, ranging in age from 65–85 years, participated in the study. Four
signals were examined, including a 3000 Hz high-frequency T-3 alarm signal
(typical of that used in U.S. smoke alarms), a 500 Hz low-frequency T-3 alarm
signal, a 500–2500 Hz mixed frequency T-3 alarm signal, and a male voice
(200–2500Hz) alarm signal. The results showed that the mixed frequency T-3
alarm signal provided the greatest waking effectiveness of the signals
evaluated, including the high frequency T-3, typical of most current alarms. In
fact, the high-frequency T-3 performed the most poorly of the alternative
signals tested. There was a substantial difference in the median auditory
arousal thresholds (20 dBA) between the
high-frequency T-3 alarm signal and the mixed frequency T-3. The results also
indicate that a male voice alarm is not suitable for older adults. In terms of
the cognitive and physical abilities of older adults upon waking to an alarm, a
decrement in physical functioning of around 10–17 percent was observed, with no
important effects on simple or cognitive functioning.
summary, the sleep study concluded that the high frequency alarm signal that is
typically used in current smoke alarms should be replaced by an alternative
signal that offers significantly better waking effectiveness across the general
population, once the nature of the best signal has been determined. Further
sleep research is underway at Victoria University of Technology to address this
issue. In the interim, the study
recommends that the use of interconnected smoke alarm in bedrooms be encouraged
to provide the maximum potential benefit of current and future alarms. Proper
use and maintenance of smoke alarms is also critical to realizing the benefits
of smoke alarms.
have been published from this project – one is a summary report, which
describes the risk and technology assessments of the project and one reports on the sleep studies themselves. They are available at
Foundation is currently in receipt of a second Fire Prevention and Safety
grant, which will explore the broader issue of notification effectiveness for
various high-risk groups in the general population.
and Signaling Systems Research
Detector Performance for Level Ceilings With Deep Beams and Deep Beam Pocket
Configurations documents a comprehensive review of smoke detector parameters
for a wide
variety of beam spacings, ceiling heights, and room
areas. Computational fluid dynamics were used in the analysis.
Direct Visual Signaling as a Means for Occupant Notification in Large Spaces documents the effectiveness of occupant notification
in "big box" spaces by
strobes, installed per the requirements of the performance-based section of
H. Almand is the executive director of the Fire
Protection Research Foundation.
Dear Abby calls for better smoke alarm.
Our products are intuitive, easy to use and don't require special wiring or installation.
Typical, store-bought smoke alarms use a tiny, high pitched speaker which is difficult for many people to hear. Our smoke alarms make a loud, deep tone.