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by Abigail Van Buren

Alarm Is Pitched Too High for Hearing Impaired Man

DEAR ABBY: National Fire Protection Association President John M. Buckman III urged families to change the batteries in their smoke alarms when changing their clocks back to standard time.

I recently installed two smoke alarms in my home with the help of an elderly gentleman friend. When the job was done, I pushed the test button and the sound nearly knocked me off my feet.

My friend didn't bat an eye. When I asked him if he had heard it, his response was, "Heard what?" I asked him to put his ear next to the alarm and pushed the button again with the same result. I knew he couldn't hear high-pitched sounds like the singing of birds, but the alarm sound was so sharp and intrusive I couldn't believe he didn't hear it.

I called the 800-number listed on the brochure and was told the alarms are manufactured with only one pitch!

Are people afflicted with this condition expected to remain at risk should fire erupt in their home because no one makes an alarm attuned to their disability?

It would seem like a simple adjustment to make alarms with a lower pitch audible to everyone. Mr. Buckman asked you to remind readers about the importance of maintaining working smoke alarms. I would like to remind him about how important it is they work for everyone, including people with hearing impairments.

Now that I've sounded my alarm, I hope it is heard by those who can respond to it. -- CONCERNED READER, NEWPORT, VT.

DEAR CONCERNED READER: Your letter is news to me -- and I'm sure it will be of interest to many others. Surely some enterprising manufacturer will see the wisdom of producing a smoke alarm with an adjustable tone that would make it audible to almost everyone. There is clearly a market for such a product.

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letters about the elderly widower whose daughters drove away his second wife and thwarted his subsequent attempts to find love, I offer some suggestions:

1. Rather than telling his daughters to take a flying leap or rewriting his will, he should pick up the phone and call his daughters every day. If they're not home, he should call again and demand to know where they were.

2. Call them several other times a day just to tell them how lonesome he is.

3. Tell them how much he misses their mother -- and whine.

4. Try the phrase, "I don't want to worry you, but ..." and complain he's not feeling well, making sure to fully describe every ache and pain.

5. Invite them to his house, saying he needs their help with something -- and whine some more.

6. Drop by for meals unannounced. Better still, stop by any time of day or night and hang around, making a nuisance of himself.

7. Be sure to criticize their housekeeping, child-rearing and anything else he can think of.

If he does this often enough, he'll make them wish he WOULD remarry. -- ANN RIDDELL, PORTLAND, ORE.

DEAR ANN: You're a clever psychologist. If Dad were to become unrelentingly needy and demanding, his self-centered daughters would probably waste no time in distancing themselves.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

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