With climate change, we’re seeing unprecedented storms around the world. It is essential for everyone to prepare for natural disasters, and it is particularly important for people with hearing loss as they need to take special precautions. They must have the supplies they need, and a means to stay informed and contact emergency personnel. There are several things you can do to prepare for natural disasters and their aftermath.
Prepare an emergency kit
In addition to items everyone should have such as food, water, and medications, you should prepare a kit that includes:
- Paper and a pen to communicate if you’re unable to hear. Devices like smartphones can also be used for this purpose, but in the case of longer-term emergencies, the batteries may die.
- Your old hearing aids make a great backup and should be stored somewhere safe. They can be used as replacements if the current ones run out of batteries or are lost during a storm. Store them in moisture-proof plastic bags.
- Keep extra batteries for all hearing devices. Make sure that this includes batteries for new and old hearing aids, as well as batteries for microphones or other equipment that help you communicate.
- Purchase car chargers for items such as cochlear implant battery packs and cellphones. This is a great way to recharge devices when the power is out.
- Charge all your devices and backup batteries. If you have rechargeable hearing aids make sure they are at a full charge and that you have a backup charger if the electricity goes out.
- Get some weatherproof bags or containers to hold hearing devices, batteries, and other items. Many stores now sell inexpensive waterproof sacks that you can find in the camping section.
Put together an emergency contact list
In emergencies, you can’t rely on your cell phone or other devices. You need to have phone numbers and other important information hard copy, just in case.
Both state and local agencies offer support for people with hearing loss in the case of a natural disaster. If you live in an urban area, make sure you have the numbers for the Mayor’s Office Department of Disability, and that you are aware of how their system works. Wherever you live, make sure you have the numbers for the local fire and police departments, the mayor’s office, and any support or volunteer groups that help people with hearing loss during an emergency. Your doctor’s number should also be on the list, as well as the manufacturer of your hearing aid in case you need emergency service.
Invest in technology
Many companies sell receivers that work in conjunction with the National Weather Service’s system to get severe weather warnings through National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio. These receivers send output such as strobe lights or loud sirens, while other devices shake the bed or vibrate the pillows so that people with hearing loss are alerted to severe weather conditions and warnings.
You can also get devices that assist hearing. Amplified telephones or telephones explicitly designed to work with hearing aids can help you hear vital information. Your TV should be equipped with closed captioning. TV amplifiers work both by themselves and with the assistance of a headset.
Also make sure you have an evacuation plan and that other members of the family are aware of your plan.