Sunday, July 5, 2009

Close Encounters of the Ignorant Kind

For Independence Day weekend, my family and I drove down to New Orleans to spend some time with family. There was also some kind of music festival going on, so it was nearly impossible to book a hotel. The one we had was literally the only one with rooms left. When booking the rooms, my mom called to ask to see if they'd be able to give us the flashing smoke detector for people with hearing loss. Not a problem, they said.

When we finally arrived at our hotel, we went to the front desk and my mom reminded them we needed rooms close by to each other (my sister and I usually stay in a different room than our parents, but we usually try to get connecting rooms) and I politely reminded them about the special smoke detector. "Of course!" she said.

So far, so good...

We got up to the rooms and explored (okay, inspected) them. I wondered aloud which room had the smoke detector for the hearing impaired. Both rooms had smoke detectors that looked exactly the same. We decided to ask them when we went back down to get the luggage. Here is the conversation that followed:

(to make it easier to read, I've color-coded who said what. Here's a key...)

Lady at the front desk
My mom
Side comment

"Excuse me, but I was wondering which of the rooms is equipped with the special flashing smoke detector?"

"Oh, um... Well, it was either we put you in rooms down the hall from one another and have the smoke detectors, or gives you rooms that are close without them. I just assumed being close was more important."

Okay... it would've been nice if she at least told us this! I mean, she would've been in some pretty hot water if the smoke detectors went off and that was when we discovered they didn't have a strobe light.
"Well, the thing is, she won't hear the smoke detector go off in the middle of the night."

"Oh honey! Don't worry! Her nose works just fine! Can she hear me at all?"

"Yeahhh... I just can't hear at night."

Okay, when people seem clueless, it's always best to education them, right?

"She wears these things that are like hearing aids, and she can hear you pretty well right now--"

"Oh! I thought she was just reading my lips!"

"No, she can hear right now. But when she takes them off at night or in the shower or at night, she can't hear anything at all."

*cackling laugh* "Do you know how many people wish they couldn't hear me?! You sure are lucky!"

And no, I never did get a flashing smoke detector.

On the bright side, I did have a great 4th. I got to meet a lot of my new baby cousins, but the best was the spectacular fireworks(pics above)! We went and watched them on the levee, and there were at least 4 separate shows going on around us at once. This was my first time hearing fireworks in "Bi-CI" and it sounded awesome!
I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend. And kept their ears protected! The poor little girl next to me would shriek (and not out of excitement) with every firework, clutching her hands on her ears. Should've brought earplugs!


  1. It really is sad how uneducated some people are about hearing loss. I completely understand the frustration.
    You are so lucky you got to see fireworks! I didn't see any this year because I was camping :/

  2. So clueless it's frightening! And there's always next year :)

  3. It's a Very Dangerous Mistake if you believe a flashing strobe can wake you, especially if CO (carbon monoxide) levels are above zero, making you even drowsier.

    Next time, hang a bright red or yellow "Deaf Inside" door hanger; and let the staff know you can't hear the fire alarm. This way, someone will come around with a master (card) key and safely evacuate you.

    If you have a hotel room to yourself, I recommend a pillow or bed shaker that listens for the beep from a smoke or CO detector. They were demonstrated at the HLAA Convention last month, and are available from many ALD dealers.

    And, be sure to bring your own CO detector along, as that can save your life.

    Dan Schwartz
    Host, The Telegraph (London) Hearing Blog

  4. Hi Dan,
    I very much appreciate this information. Can you give me a brand name of the device that listens for the beeps from the smoke/CO detectors? Also, would these be sufficient for use at home, or is it better to have something that is connected to the smoke detector (and also has a bed shaker)?


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