Emergency SMS 999

16 09 2009

I’ve always felt hard done by when thinking about my safety. Being unable to hear on the phone, I would hate to be put in a position where I needed to call the police quickly if I was being mugged or burgled, or the ambulance service if there was an accident, or the fire service if I had a fire at home. I would always need to rely upon a hearing person to make that call. Assuming I could find someone quickly wherever and whenever that may be. Assuming they would be willing to make the call – what if they didn’t understand me or it was 3am?

But there’s hope. A new service is being trialled in the UK. You can now send a text message to the emergency services using 999 rather than a long number you can’t remember, or trying to call via Typetalk / Text Direct / Text Relay / Whatever It’s Called. This is fabulous news for people who can’t use the phone. You need to register your mobile phone with the service, which is very simple and takes 2 minutes.

Further details here: Emergency SMS

The RNID are running a survey on access to emergency services with the aim of improving access. More information after the jump.

Light my fire

6 09 2008


Today was the first cold day we’ve had this summer. I actually had my 100% pure wool cardigan on and my soft fleecy socks from Marks and Spencer, as the heating hasn’t been switched on yet.

I shut the bedroom window. I could smell the neighbour’s chimney, they must have a good old fire going. I love the smell of fires. They remind me of the peat fires my nana had when I was growing up in Ireland, very aromatic and welcoming. I walked into the lounge and sat down. I could smell the smoke on my cardigan. Blimey, the neighbour’s chimney must need cleaning out, I thought.

Some time later, it was time to take my dog for a walk. I got my shoes on and went out. Outside my front door, I tripped over a huge fire hose. What the f#*$……….???

There were six fire engines and two police cars outside. A building across the road was burning merrily. It was a huge, huge fire. Lots of hunky firemen running around. How did I miss THIS? How did I miss six fire engines screaming down the road to my front door? The building had been boarded up for a few years, recently I had seen groups of teenagers coming and going from this building. I bet some of the buggers had set it alight, playing with matches or whatever bored kids do these days.

I’m amazed that I missed hearing all this, right on my doorstep. Huh. So much for these ‘wonderful’ digital hearing aids.

New emergency text services

5 05 2008

A new emergency text service has been launched by police in Sussex. You can read about it here. To call an emergency service, send a text to 65999, starting with the word POLICE, FIRE, AMBULANCE, or COASTGUARD.

A similar service has started in Kent, send a text beginning with POLICE, MEDIC or RESCUE to 60066.

Bus passengers in Brighton and Hove can send a text if there are problems on the bus such as rowdiness. Text REPORT to 60060 and give a description of the incident, and your message will be passed on to the police.

It’s a shame the numbers are all different, unlike the national 999 number or 911 in the US. A national number would make more sense, wouldn’t it?

Petitions update : deaf alerters

29 04 2008

The petition for fire alert systems was handed in and this is the result.

Wasabi fire alarms

21 03 2008

Have you ever tried wasabi, that hot green Japanese stuff? The Japanese have invented a smoke alarm that releases a horseradish scent which is strong enough to waken people … without making a sound at all. Prototypes of this smoke alarm that sprayed canned wasabi extract into a room succeeded in waking 13 out of 14 test subjects within 2 minutes. One subject who is actually deaf awoke 10 seconds after the wasabi essence was sprayed.

Flashing lights don’t always work, especially if you sleep under the covers or with your eyes shut. Light won’t usually waken me. Batteries can run out too. Vibrating alarms which slip under the pillow are ok but batteries can run out, and they can move around and fall off the bed. This wasabi alarm certainly looks intriguing. It will be on sale in a few years time.

CHECK HERE for a demonstration of the wasabi smoke alarm.

CHECK HERE for a demonstration of what happens when you inhale a line of wasabi (and haven’t tried it!).

Fire alert systems

21 03 2008

There is a petition to try and make sure businesses and public places fit the right fire alarm systems for deaf and hard of hearing people. The petition is to create legislation by statute to include deaf people in the general regulations concerning the fire and emergency alarm systems in all public, commercial and industrial buildings in Britain.

Nine million deaf and hearing impaired people are unable to hear the sounding of the emergency alarm systems whilst sleeping at night in a hotel. Similarly this group may be unable to recognise the fire alarm even in ordinary circumstances due to hearing difficulties.

Technology has allowed development of auxiliary radio-alerter systems that work in conjunction with primary alarms; activating a pager that alerts the user. Such equipment may use a specific wavelength so the single radio frequency can be reserved for the sole purpose of deaf people.

Legislation is an essential prerequisite to ensure the same wavelength is used throughout Britain; the same radio-pager will activate to a commercial alarm in any public corporate building, factory, office or hotel.

Without access to general sounds, this group is vulnerable and in continual danger within places of work. This danger amplifies itself in magnitude during sleep in a hotel. Altogether deaf people will be continually at risk unless legislation is made available under regulation to ensure all such buildings are equipped with a working auxiliary radio transmitter that will activate users to the emergency.

Petition deadline : 03 April 2008

You can sign the petition here.

You can also write to Mr Bruce Calderwood, Director to the Office for Disability Issues, to express your reasons for supporting the petition at The Adelphi, 1-11 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6HT