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 help your loved one prepare for natural disasters and their aftermath.
Help With An Emergency Kit
In addition to items everyone should have such as food, water, and medications, you should help prepare a kit for your loved one with hearing loss that includes:
- Paper and a pen so that in case of emergency your loved one can communicate with someone without being able to hear the person speaking. A laptop or pad can also be used for this purpose, but in the case of longer-term emergencies, the batteries may die.
- Still have your old hearing aid? Your old hearing aids 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.
- 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 your loved one hear and communicate.
- 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.
- 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.
Put Together An Emergency Contact List
Both state and local agencies offer support for people with hearing loss in the case of a natural disaster. If your loved one lives in an urban area, make sure you have the numbers for the Mayor’s Office Department of Disability, and that you and those who are hard of hearing are aware of how their system works. For rural or suburban areas, include 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. The number of your loved one’s doctor should also be on the list, as well as the manufacturer of their hearing aid in case they 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 help by getting your loved one devices that assist hearing. Amplified telephones or telephones explicitly designed to work with hearing aids can help your loved one hear vital information. Their TV should be equipped with closed captioning, and TV amplifiers work both by themselves and with the assistance of a headset.
Above all, be sure your loved one has an evacuation plan and that other members of the family are aware of this program and how they can help.