Safe Vibrations: New Fire Alarms Provide Warning for Hearing-Impaired

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    When Charles and Ginnell Cummings go to sleep each night, Charissa Sanders worries. Both of the Cummings are deaf, and for Sanders, their daughter, there's a constant fear that a fire could kill them.

    "If I'm not here with them, then I feel like they're in danger always," Sanders said. "A fire can happen any time. You never know when it could happen."

    Vibrating Fire Alarm Shakes You Awake

    [DFW] Vibrating Fire Alarm Shakes You Awake
    The Arlington Fire Department is installing nearly a dozen vibrating smoke alarms in the homes of hearing-impaired residents. (Published Monday, Nov. 16, 2009)

    A new program from the Arlington Fire Department is tackling that fear for deaf residents of the Texas city.

    The fire department is installing nearly a dozen vibrating smoke alarms in the residents of the hearing-impaired. In addition to the regular beeping sound, these alarms send a wireless signal to a bedside alarm. The alarm then violently vibrates a small unit that's placed under the pillow.

    "It's taken the smoke detector and added an arm to the smoke detector that helps the hearing impaired and the deaf to wake up in the event of a fire," said Deputy Fire Marshal Keith Ebel. "It's life or death. That's the bottom line."

    For the more than 300,000 people in the Metroplex who have a severe loss of hearing, a regular smoke detector doesn't provide much warning. These new alarms solve that problem.

    Ginnell Cummings said she the vibration is very strong under her pillow -- strong enough to wake her during a fire.

    "I feel safer to live here," Ginnell Cummings signed to her daughter.

    Community groups such as Sertoma raised money for the alarms, which cost about $150 each. The Arlington Fire Department still has some left for families in need of them.

    "I'll know that they're safe," Sanders said. "They're safe in their own home, where they should be safe."