Smoke detectors for the elderly

Page 1 of 6  

I was at an elderly friend's house the other day when the smoke alarm went off. It was quite loud and I reacted instantly to the noise. My friend, a former Army marksman in his 70's, who's suffering from profound high frequency hearing loss, heard nothing!!!
Then I started looking around for alarms that used lower frequency sounders but the only thing I could find were specially converted smoke detectors that cost $300!!!!
I'm wondering why COTS alarms operate at such a high sound frequency, especially when it's well known that older adults lose their high frequency hearing first. I have been thinking of just unsoldering the Sonalert sounders in low priced alarms and replacing them with lower frequency sounders, but that could compromise the detector's ability to sense smoke if the replacement sounder has sufficiently different electrical characteristics.
Does anyone know of a *reasonably* priced smoke detector whose sounder is audible to people with high frequency hearing loss? I'd like to buy a couple of such detectors for him, but the price on the only unit I've found would bring the bill to over $1200 for four detectors, and that's just unreasonable. I know what goes into making a smoke detector and 10x the cost of the parts still wouldn't bring the price that high.
The idea that smokes use sounders that can't be heard by a lot of elderly people seems pretty unreasonable to me as well.
Surely someone out there makes a smoke detector or combo smoke/CO detector (even better) that makes a sound people with typical hearing loss could hear a little better.
BTW, we can skip flashing light smoke detectors. BT, DT, GTS! He's got a phone ringer/flasher that he never hears or sees. The unit's flasher can't really be seen in daytime easily and the electronic ringer again uses a tone in the 5000Hz and above range and is inaudible to him. FWIW, based on some simple tests I did with CoolEdit, a PC program that allows you to create any audible tone, he can hear most stuff below 4000Hz. Yes he has a hearing aid but no, he does not sleep with it in.
Thanks in advance for your help.
-- Bobby G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Cheaper than $300 but still kinda expensive
http://www.independentliving.com/prodinfo.asp?number=SC509
cheers Bob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

sounders
<stuff snipped>
Cheaper than $300 but still kinda expensive
http://www.independentliving.com/prodinfo.asp?number=SC509
cheers Bob
Thanks, Bob. I just don't understand why using a lower-frequency sounder adds so darn much to the cost! There HAS to be a cheaper solution and I'm going out to Sprawl-Mart and some other stores to see what I can find. This is one case where on-site shopping might very well beat out on-line shopping.
-- Bobby G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Seems to me someone in our dysfunctional Congress needs to address this issue. Or maybe Consumer Reports or AARP could launch a campaign. We supposedly have Consumer Product Safety working for us, but they seem to be asleep except for traces of lead in Chinese toy paint. On the technical side, what do you audio experts think of having a raunchy sounding dual tone that would generate a beat frequency that would be even more (maybe disagreeably) audible?
Joe
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'm all for it. Joe for congress!
--
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<<Seems to me someone in our dysfunctional Congress needs to address this issue. Or maybe Consumer Reports or AARP could launch a campaign.>>
I've come to believe that only laws that help businesses who bring buckets of cash to campaigns get passed. )-: Congress critters on both sides of the aisle are equally guilty and it will only get worse until we ban campaign contributions. Who in this world gives money to someone without expecting something in return? Yet Congress wants us to believe they are above all that. Edwards has been paying his mistress with left-over campaign funds. Ensign has been trying to bribe the husband of the woman he's having an affair with and more than a few are in jail, or heading there soon. Trust them to fix the smoke alarm problem? I wouldn't trust any of them with even a burned-out match.
<<We supposedly have Consumer Product Safety working for us, but they seem to be asleep except for traces of lead in Chinese toy paint.>>
The key word is "supposedly" - a lot of people bought into the idea that any regulation was bad regulation along with the fairytale that you can lower taxes but still run government effectively. Now, as a result, there's very little pre-emptive enforcement. It's only when the dead children and pets start to stack up that regulators seem to notice anything's amiss.
<<On the technical side, what do you audio experts think of having a raunchy sounding dual tone that would generate a beat frequency that would be even more (maybe disagreeably) audible?>>
As I read up on this subject, research indicates that flashing lights are nearly useless in rousing someone from sleep. High frequency sounders are almost as bad. Kids and adults are apparently able to sleep through both. The lower square wave of 520Hz seems to be the best at waking people, as far as tones are concerned. Even better is to have a "bed shaker" connected to the alarm output.
The problem I face here is resistance. My friend says he's quite happy with not being able to hear the alarm, but I suspect because he's infirm and usually in a lot of pain, that he's feeling a little suicidal. I know he won't spring for a complicated security system. He already got sold an expensive system from the people that wander door-to-door selling such things (I know, I know. I already chastized him greatly for that.!) He's not likely to buy another one (he doesn't even use this one because the vendor went under. So my best hope of getting him protection is to make it cheap and easy to install.
Thanks for your input!
-- Bobby G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 4 Oct 2009 11:30:44 -0400, "Robert Green"

That one's really low. If he doesn't shape up, he'll never make captain.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Joe wrote:

Yeah, for every perceived or possible problem, there's got to be a government solution. If not, the government will study the need and solve some other problem.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sat, 3 Oct 2009 11:27:35 -0400, "Robert Green"

The wired smoke detectors in my house are not high pitched at all and I'm sure the builder didn't pay more then a small amount for them. They make a loud buzzing sound, sort of like the emergency broadcast sound you probably have heard on your TV and radio.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ashton Crusher wrote: ...

Maybe you could ferret out the manufacturer for OP????
--
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

What he said! (-:
-- Bobby G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<stuff snipped>

Would you mind telling me (if you can reach them) what make and model they are? Are they hardwired 110VAC or battery powered? Thanks!
-- Bobby G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<x-posted to alt.security.alarms>
wrote:

Robert,
That issue has been addressed by the NFPA. See here: http://www.hearinglossweb.com/tech/alrt/smoke/code.htm
Maybe someone in ASA can get you a deal on some units.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"G. Morgan" wrote:

In my previous home there were 110V smokes in each room they were interconnected and with 9V backup. They had very low-pitch buzzers -- definitely not piezos. I don't recall the make or model and I suspect they were pretty old. I replaced them with System Sensor detectors.
You've probably seen the outrageously overpriced detectors from "LoudnLow" -- a company that makes it's money by gouging hearing deficient victims. There's a company that makes a low-frequency sounder which responds to the high-pitch noise from conventional smokes. It's called Telex. Their product is also pricey but at least you won't be out $1200. I can't speak for the quality of their product as I haven't tried one. Here's a link:
http://www.teltex.com/Home.asp
Hope that helps.
--

Regards,
Robert L Bass
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

I wouldn't call $159 per unit "gouging" for such a specialized product
https://darro001.secure.omnis.com/products.php
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<stuff snipped>

It just depends on your perspective I guess. What are the technical and manufacturing differences between the mass-produced $20 smoke detector and one of these "specialized" low-frequency units?
I don't want to deny anyone a living, but the problem seems to be that the mass-manufacturers are making the wrong product. It doesn't work for perhaps as many as 1 in 5 Americans.
As for costing out the differences, the worst price difference I can see is that it might take some AA batteries instead of 9V one to create as loud a sound at the lower frequency. I just don't see where it should cost over 10X the cost of a Wal-mart or Target special. At $159 each, it's not likely that a lot of elderly people will be able to properly cover their house with them.
I believe I read somewhere that 9V batteries are very high on the list of items shop-lifted by the elderly. That's no surprise to me when I read about the living conditions of some of the older people in America. I've been shocked at how much they're charging for 9V's ($4!!!!) lately so maybe the switch to AA based alarms, if that's what it takes to make a loud enough noise with them, is a blessing, too. AA's seem to be available at more reasonable prices than 9V cells in general.
Considering that those needing such alarms are most likely to be the same elderly adults asked to bail out Wall St.'s Richie Richkids with their million dollar bonuses, I think what you get for $159 v. $20 is a valid question. If 70 million people can't hear these units well enough to be awakened by them, there was a BIG basic mistake in the selection and approval of the frequencies used. That's what Mr. Morgan's URL attested to. Fire experts are beginning to look at the statistics and have realized the high frequencies originally chosen as attention-getters doesn't work as well at rousing people as lower tones, especially when natural old-age hearing attrition becomes a factor.
In fact, because some of the sites I looked at said that bed shakers are the best at awakening people, I am thinking about taking the very loud bass unit from a pair of Creative PC speakers I have lying around and hooking it into my home alarm system to "shake the bed" with something like a recording from a disaster movie. The literature I've been reading is that every second counts in escaping a fire and that a combination tone and a bedshaker alarm would give us the best possible warning and be very affordable as well since I already have an alarm panel in the house.
As for being "specialized" I think the whole point here is that low-frequency tone alarms shouldn't be considered something special. From what Mr. Morgan's referral said, they won't be a high dollar, specialized product with a few years as the new rules come into play.
There's very little design or cost difference between an alarm with a low frequency sounder than one with a high frequency. High frequency was the wrong choice, now that's getting fixed. I guess someone in the CPSC was standing next to someone elderly and noticed what I did. Finally. Everbody msistakes mkes. (-:
Oops, was that a rant? I guess so. Sorry. It just amazes me that this problem has existed for so long without anyone doing a damn thing about it. Who needs death panels when we have Underwriter's Laboratory approving smoke alarms that elderly and hard of hearing people can't hear? Maybe they need to change their name to "Undertaker's Labs."
Thanks for your input!
-- Bobby G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<stuff snipped>

"LoudnLow" --

There's
high-pitch
of
Thanks for the link but I need to find something less pricey. I just CAN NOT believe that with all the smoke detectors out there, that there isn't anything except multi-hundred dollar units that can make a sound that hard-of-hearing people can hear. I'd like to do this for $120 max. The larger issue is the millions of older Americans on tight budgets who can hardly afford to eat. They're definitely NOT going to spend $1000's or even $100's on fancy smoke detectors, nor should they.
Thanks for your input. I'm betting that if I had to go that route, I could get out some copper-clad perf board and my soldering iron and build something very similar to what you are describing for a lot less. But still, I shouldn't have to. Fortunately, the industry seems to have finally realized the problem and are taking steps to correct it. I just hope my friend doesn't turn himself into a crispy critter before then. He likes to sit in his armchair, smoking a pipe and he tends to doze off a lot.
-- Bobby G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Robert Green wrote:

There's a lot of liability when it comes to fire safety. "Good" and "cheap" do sometimes occur together, but less often than not.
There are plug-in Gentex models with strobes as well, I know you are focused on audible notification appliances, but visual appliances have been the traditional solution for the hard of hearing. 177cd is pretty freaking bright. However, those do run about $100 apiece retail, and there's not much getting around that.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<stuff snipped>

Thanks. I knew the problem was bad, but apparently as many as 70 million Americans having high-frequency hearing loss, according to that site. That's a pretty big chunk of people to leave out of the design process. Maybe there was a patent issue involved.
I never thought about the problem until I was standing next to someone who couldn't hear a peep of what I thought was ear-drum damaging loud, but then again, I don't design smoke detectors. I'm glad that after 20 or 30 years worth of sales, something's finally being done to address the problem as indicated by the URL you posted.
I'd still like to find 3 or 4 battery powered smokes or combo smoke/CO's that don't need hardwiring and don't cost more than $50 each. Hopefully someone can tell me for sure which brands make that lower frequency squarewave 520Hz sound that's being mandated.
It sounds like I need to keep my fingers crossed until the new models come out and hope that he doesn't burn himself up before then . . . naw . . . couldn't live with myself if something bad happened in the mean time. I'll keep looking. At least I have a new search term: 520Hz. I expect that to help a lot in finding what I am looking for. Thanks again for the URL. (time passes) - not as helpful as I thought. It seems only two alarm makers have such units, and they're way overpriced compared to traditional battery detectors. And I mean waaaaay over. I can get 10 normal alarms for the price of one of the specialized low frequency units. If there's anything I hate, it's gouging the sick and disabled. This is a perfect example. Smoke detectors, as the new rules make clear, should be able to wake most people up, not just one demographic.
-- Bobby G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

a
sounders
Can you not find an optical alarm, that indicates by blinking a strobe light on/off slowly (at whatever frequency is likeliest to catch the attention of deaf people)?
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.