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      Staying safe

      If you are deaf or have hearing loss, there's a range of gadgets and text message services that will help you stay safe at home – and on the go.

      Smoke alarms

      It's vital to have a smoke alarm.

      You're entitled to a free home fire safety check through your local fire and rescue service. Make sure the fire safety officers know about your hearing loss, and tell them if you use hearing aids or a cochlear implant, so they can recommend the smoke alarm system that's most suitable for you.

      Ordinary smoke alarms make a piercing, high-pitched sound. If you have a moderate, severe or profound hearing loss (especially in the high pitches), or take your hearing aids out before you sleep, an ordinary smoke alarm may not be enough to alert you. Remember, you may be able to hear a smoke alarm while you're awake, but not when you are asleep or when you take out your hearing aids.

      That's why it's important to get a smoke alarm system that is designed for people who are deaf or have hearing loss. It will have a pad that goes under your pillow or mattress that vibrates if the smoke alarm goes off; and bright flashing lights to alert you when you're awake. Some systems include a vibrating pager, low-frequency alarm and carbon monoxide detector. For more information, see our factsheet Smoke alarms.

      If you live in a new-build property or property conversion (such as a house converted into flats), a smoke alarm system should already be fitted to meet buildings regulations – but it may not be suitable for your level of hearing. Contact your local fire and rescue service for advice.

      If you're planning to stay at a hotel, guest house or rented holiday accommodation, check what equipment they provide for alerting you in the event of a fire – before you make a booking.

      Emergency assistance

      The Emergency SMS service allows you to contact the ambulance, fire, police and coastguard from any mobile or smartphone by sending a text message to 999 or 112. The SMS is converted to a standard 999 call with a text relay assistant. Before you can use the service you need to register your mobile at http://ngts.org.uk/esms_index.php

      Register now, rather than wait until you need the service in an emergency.

      There's a range of equipment available that allows you to contact relatives and friends quickly and easily in an emergency, whether you're at home or out and about. Some corded landline telephones have an emergency button that you can wear, on your wrist or as a necklace, which will dial pre-stored numbers when the button is pressed. Some mobiles have a similar feature.