West Palm Beach, Fla — Of all the reasons millions of Americans living with untreated hearing loss should consider hearing aids for their impairment, safety is at the top of the list, says Dr. Cindy Beyer, audiologist and senior vice president of HearUSA.

To call attention to the dangers of untreated hearing loss, all of the more than 180 HearUSA company-owned hearing care centers in California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania will offer free hearing screenings and an informative DVD on hearing loss and its treatment during this year’s Better Hearing Month in May.

Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety. However, although 95 percent of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids, three out of four of the 36 million Americans living with hearing loss do not have them.

Beyer listed some sounds you may not be able to hear that can hurt you:

  • The car about to pass you on the right
  • The alert from your passenger that you didn’t hear or understand
  • The clicking of your turn signals that are still flashing and dangerously confusing other drivers
  • An approaching vehicle as you cross the street or walk in a parking lot
  • The smoke alarm in your home
  • The phone ringing (it could be an emergency)
  • A child crying out in pain or distress
  • In an emergency, the inability to communicate with the 911 operator
  • Someone ringing the bell and pounding on your door
  • In the workplace, especially when working around machinery
  • Not being able to fully participate in workplace safety training sessions
  • Putting your health in jeopardy when your hearing loss prevents you from fully understanding a physician’s instructions

While one in 10 Americans have hearing loss, it is older men and women who are much more likely to suffer from this life altering condition. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly one in three adults 65-74 years old and almost half of all adults 75 years old or older have a hearing impairment.

The failure to hear smoke detectors and take quick action is the major reason adults 65 or older are more than twice as likely as any other age group to die in a home fire.

In his article, Is Your Child Safe When Grandpa Can’t Hear?, Dr. Sergei Kochkin, executive director of the Better Hearing Institute, writes, “The first step in assuring that grandparents or other caregivers can safely take care of your children is to ask them to get their hearing checked…”

“For your own safety, and for the safety of your family, friends and co-workers, taking a few minutes for a hearing-loss screening can pay enormous dividends,” Beyer said.