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What is the SafeAwake?

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The SafeAwake is a smoke alarm accessory which improves alerting effectiveness for those who may not be able to hear a standard smoke alarm signal well.  The SafeAwake is essential safety equipment for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, but can also be lifesaving for individuals of all hearing abilities. It is a premier notification device that combines two technologies: the first being alarm recognition and the second being an intermittent bed shaking signal. When the SafeAwake is activated by a smoke alarm, a bed shaker vibrates the bed in an intermittent pattern to wake the sleeping individual. In addition to the bed shaker alert, the SafeAwake also produces a high-decibel, low-frequency alarm, and a flashing indicator light. SafeAwake installation is simple: place the bed shaker under the mattress and plug the sound reception unit into a wall outlet. The SafeAwake also includes a battery backup that provides power in the event of a power failure. This device provides superior alerting capability for awakening people in fire emergencies. 

Development of the Technology

The inventors of the SafeAwake developed the technology through a SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) award to develop fire safety products for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. The hard-of-hearing and deaf populations are at a large disadvantage when it comes to waking to an emergency from standard audible smoke alarms. Conventional smoke alarms produce a tone at a frequency of about 3200 Hz. This frequency is often too high to be heard by many people with hearing loss when asleep. The SafeAwake was designed to provide a much more reliable method of awakening those who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or simply deep sleepers.  The intermittent bed shaker was tested in sleep studies over three years at Johns Hopkins-affiliated sleep laboratories across the country. 

A major finding in this study was that the bed shaker was far superior for awakening deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals than a conventional audible alarm or a visual strobe alarm. It was also found that bed shakers are more effective in awakening hearing-able individuals than traditional smoke alarms as well. A bed shaker with an intermittent pattern was found to be more effective at awakening than a continuous vibration. To read a copy of the final report from this study, click here. The awakening results for hard-of-hearing individuals are summarized in the below graph. 


The SafeAwake uses both an intermittent bed shaker and a low frequency horn as alerting devices. The horn produces a 520 Hz tone in an intermittent, T3 pattern. This low frequency alarm has been shown to be more effective at awakening sleeping individuals when compared to a conventional, high frequency 3200 Hz alarm, as many people with hearing loss cannot hear high frequencies well, but can still hear low frequencies. The combination of these two alerting technologies, along with a visual flashing alarm, makes the SafeAwake a reliable, effective smoke alarm notification device for those who may not awaken reliably to a conventional smoke alarm signal.

Product Advantages



  • Intermittent bed shaker

  • Low Frequency 520 Hz sounding alarm

  • Flashing white light visual alarm

  • Tested for effectiveness in a sleep laboratory

  • Operational indicator lights

  • Plug-in power supply with battery backup

  • Large test button

  • Fast sound reception for smoke alarms with T3 pattern

  • UL 217 and UL 1971 approval


The device can be used in any domestic or commercial sleeping room equipped with a standard, high-frequency, T3 smoke alarm within audible range with no need for any additional new fire detection equipment or hard-wiring. The product itself is a small 6" x 3" patented device that is placed on a bedside nightstand or hung on a wall adjacent to the bed.


The SafeAwake responds to any domestic or commercial smoke alarm that produces a high-frequency, audible alarm in a standard, T3 pattern.


The receiver plugs into any 110-volt electrical outlet and the bed shaker is placed under the mattress.


The SafeAwake includes three CR-123A lithium-ion batteries to provide backup battery power in the event of a power failure. A low battery light indicates when the battery needs to be replaced.

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