The importance of visual smoke detectors

By Adam Ledlow

Audible smoke alarms tend to sit quietly in the background – with the exception of the occasional “chirp” to let us know the power is back on or the turkey is overcooked – but despite their standard silence, they are unquestionably one of the most important safety features in the home. For Deaf and hard of hearing residents, smoke alarms with a visual or vibration-based signal are especially important.

With that importance in mind, we offer an overview of three fire safety products designed for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing below.


Lifetone Bedside Fire Alarm and Clock
What it is
: A bedside alarm that complements existing smoke alarms in the home.

What it does: The technology “listens” to traditional smoke detectors (which produce a T-3 signal) and emits a low-frequency alarm designed to wake those in danger. The system’s display will also flash with the word ‘Fire’ and the pillow shaker will be activated.

Additional info: Wireless reception triggers the low frequency audible alarm and pillow shaker using the home’s existing electricity. Also comes with battery back-up.


Bellman and Symfon SAFE package
What it is: The SAFE package includes a wireless, battery-operated smoke detector; an alarm clock with built-in receiver; and a pillow shaker.

What it does: Once the smoke detector is activated, it sends a signal to the alarm clock with built-in receiver. The ‘fire’ icon will light up on the receiver to indicate that the ‘fire’ transmitter was activated. Alerting options include: a loud 100dB ascending audible alarm that sweeps through multiple frequencies (high to low), a vibrating pillow shaker that also emits sound, and four LED flashing lights on the alarm clock. 

Additional info: This SAFE pack kit offers the clock’s ‘wake-up’ alarm as well as the fire alarm notification. However, additional transmitters can be added to receive alerts for the telephone/TTY ringing (BE1023), baby crying (BE1290) and someone at the door (BE1123 or BE1240).


Silent Call Medallion Series

What it is: Smoke detector with receiver and pillow shaker.

What it does: When the smoke detector is activated, an audible alarm goes off (85dB), the receiver’s strobe light flashes, and the pillow shaker is activated.

Additional info: Uses a “million code signal,” which means no interference if your neighbour is using the same system. Smoke detector is photoelectric – meaning it can detect slow, smouldering fires.