“We cannot stop natural disasters, but we can arm ourselves with knowledge: so many lives wouldn’t have to be lost if there was enough disaster preparedness.”
- Petra Nemcova
In today’s world, natural disasters seem to be happening more and more often, from floods to fires to tornadoes and hurricanes. We may not want to think about the next disaster, but preparation can make all the difference when one does happen.
This is especially true for those with hearing loss.
Takes steps to stay safe
While it’s true that hearing accessibility has become a top priority and alert systems now take all hearing abilities into account, not all emergency procedures do. It’s important to take extra steps to stay safe in an emergency if you have hearing loss. Here’s how to plan ahead:
- Create your plan – You’ve probably seen the guides on social media or as an insert in the Sunday paper. The tips and checklists to help you put together a disaster plan. This can include an evacuation plan, where to meet with family and friends when you’re unable to communicate, and even how you’ll receive the latest news on the situation. Don’t forget to look at the disaster plans in place for your city, workplace, and other places you may find yourself when one strikes. Consider reaching out to local agencies to discuss any questions you have, your situation and needs in the event of a disaster. While many resources are available, this template can help you start mapping out your plan.
- How will you know? – These days there are more notification options available for everyone, including those with hearing loss. Consider registering with the following for quick alerts and talk to friends, family, and neighbors about notifying you in the event of a disaster or emergency:
- Reverse 911
- NOAA Weather Radio
- Emergency Alert System
- Prepare an Emergency Kit – Whether you’re putting together a kit on your own or buying a ready-made grab-and-go bag, it’s important to have one ready to take at a moment’s notice. Your kit should include first aid supplies, drinking water, enough food for several days, a battery-operated radio along with extra batteries, a flashlight, toiletries, and even a pad of paper and a pen. Keep medications and important documents nearby to add to the bag if the worst happens. For those with hearing loss, experts also recommend including phrase cards that alert others to your hearing loss.
- Hearing Aids and Batteries – Like medications and important documents, hearing aids and batteries should be stored somewhere nearby and easily accessible to add the emergency kit if you do have to go. Also, keep extra batteries and even spare hearing aids in your disaster kit to have on hand if replacements are needed.
The most important step you can take to stay safe in a disaster, whether you have hearing loss or not, is to be prepared. Don’t wait until disaster strikes.
If you have hearing loss and need help with planning, contact your local agencies for guidance and resources.