The recent hurricanes and wildfires have reminded us of the importance of preparing for emergencies. Emergency preparedness is a major way you can be as ready as one can possibly be to navigate an urgent and stressful situation while prioritizing your safety.
For people with hearing loss, emergencies can present additional challenges and stress. Developing an action plan that you can immediately activate during an emergency is incredibly useful. Taking the time to think through and outline your safety needs can best help you navigate an emergency as well as putting you and your family at ease.
There are several ways you can approach emergency preparedness. A few helpful tips include the following:
Take Inventory of Supplies
Having the proper supplies and power sources is crucial! You should already have a kit for your hearing aids that is easily accessible. Make sure that your kit is stocked with the supplies needed to properly use and maintain your hearing aids. This includes:
- Batteries: the Hearing Health Foundation recommends having a month’s worth of batteries in your kit. The last thing you want to deal with during an emergency is your hearing aids not powering on!
- Cleaning Supplies: be sure to have wipes and other materials you may use to clean your hearing aids. Regular maintenance is crucial for the longevity and effectiveness of your hearing aids.
- Protection: having a waterproof container or bag that is sealed can be really useful. This can protect your hearing aids in extreme weather and earthquake situations.
In addition to your hearing aids kit, you should also have a general emergency kit. This kit should include first aid materials, food (protein bars for example), water, any medications, copies of important documents (IDs, insurance etc.).
Sign Up for Emergency Alert Systems
Make sure you are signed up for the weather and emergency alert systems where you live. Fortunately, most emergency alert notifications can be sent via text messaging which is a great mode of communication for people with hearing loss. It would be useful to check in with your local government officials to ensure that you are signed up and that text messaging is the method of communication.
Establish Emergency Contact List
It is important to develop an emergency contact list if you do not already have one. This list of names and phone numbers should be printed out and easily accessible. Important emergency contacts can include:
- Family, friends, and neighbors who can provide you with any assistance and support if needed. Also, so that you can provide others with updates on your safety.
- Your local mayor’s office or city hall should have resources for people with disabilities that includes emergency services. These services are varied in different states and cities but make sure you are aware of what they are where you live.
- Your audiologist and repair services for any emergency support you may need with your hearing aids.
Have General Communication Plan
Identify at least two people who will regularly check-in on you during an emergency situation. You can ask someone who does not live near you and is not affected by the same emergency you are navigating. Having this type of buddy system allows others to know where you are and what you may need. Staying in touch with others is critical to ensuring your safety. A few additional tips for communication:
- Chargers: make sure you have included chargers for your electronic devices (cell phone and/or laptop) in your emergency kit(s). You can also use these devices to communicate with others (via text, social media) and update them on your safety.
- Reverse 911: some cities have reverse 911 as an option available during emergencies. This service calls you during an emergency situation.
- Immediately inform any first aid responders and other emergency relief responders of your use of hearing aids. This allows you to share how they can best communicate with you.
By establishing your emergency action plan and preparing resources, you can alleviate additional anxiety you may feel about navigating an emergency with hearing loss. Though you cannot prevent an emergency, being prepared will better help provide what you need to be a little safer!