Natural disasters come in many types. From simple power outages to fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes, natural disasters can exact a heavy toll. Being prepared for an emergency is an essential part of staying safe during difficult times. For those with hearing loss, there are extra challenges involving getting information and communicating with others during these trying times. Here are some emergency preparedness steps for those of you with hearing loss.
Hearing Loss-Friendly Weather-Alert Radio
Continuous weather information is accessible from the National Weather Service on a nationwide network called NOAA Weather Radio (NWR). You can receive hazard information for your area by looking for NWR receivers. The receivers have specialized connectors that can work together with security systems, shakers, pillow vibrators, and strobe lights.
Receive Reverse 911 Alerts
It is possible to receive text alerts with emergency information on your smartphone. This information includes instructions for evacuating or avoiding dangerous areas during environmental disasters. By signing up for this service, you can get life-saving information much sooner than on local news or social media.
Assemble Your Emergency Kit
Pack a bag in advance that contains everything you might need if a disaster occurs. Items should include emergency preparedness items specifically for people with hearing loss.
- A 4-week supply of hearing aid batteries
- Battery charger for cochlear implants
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Pen and paper for writing messages
- A waterproof container for storing hearing aids
- Battery removal tool
- Dry kit
- Telephone number of hearing healthcare professional
- Batteries for any additional ALDs you may have
If you have a hearing dog, there are a few extra items to pack as well:
- 1-2-week supply of food and treats
- Water for at least 24 hours
- Collar and leash
- Service ID
- Copies of dog’s immunization records
Train For A Disaster
Many communities now have programs that educate and prepare citizens for potential disasters. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) programs teach necessary disaster response skills, fire safety, and medical operations. The classrooms and training environments are accessible to people with hearing loss. Some venues have assistive listening systems, while others offer amplified sound microphones or sign language interpreters.
If you have a hearing loss and live alone, forming a support system is crucial. A small network of neighbors, friends, and family can work together during an emergency to ensure everyone stays safe and receives up-to-date emergency information. Please remember to inform your network about any health concerns, assistive listening devices, or medical supplies. This information is vital for responders who may help you during a disaster. You may consider using communication cards to communicate with rescue workers. These cards can alert a rescuer to your hearing loss and use images, symbols, and words to convey meaning.
If you have a hearing loss, it is essential that you take the time to prepare for natural disasters. Assemble a kit, sign up for alerts, and train for emergencies. Contact your hearing healthcare professional for additional tips and help for emergency preparedness.