Preparing For Emergencies With Hearing Aids
As Floridians, we know first hand how devastating hurricanes or other natural disasters can be, even when properly prepared and planned for. We were only recently slammed by hurricane Irma, an extremely destructive storm that cost Florida more lives than any other Florida hurricane in recorded history, at a record-breaking 72. On the heels of Irma, meteorologists are predicting that Florida’s worst month for hurricanes – October – is still on the way.
Of course It is important for all Floridians (or anyone facing a natural disaster) to take the necessary precautions to remain as safe as possible. For those with hearing loss, there may be additional safeguards that can be added to your family’s emergency plans.
1. Register For Available Emergency Alert Systems
These days, most emergency alert notifications are sent via text message, which is luckily a hearing loss friendly mode of communication. Some systems are automatically installed on your smartphone and others require you to opt-in. Make sure your are signed up for all emergency alert systems that pertain to you on a federal, state and county level, and ensure they are all sent via text message. For a list of some national alert systems and to sign up, visit: https://www.ready.gov/alerts.
2. Have A Backup Communication System Handy
Along with your regular emergency kit items (such as: protein bars, water, first aid supplies, and copies of important documents) be sure to include an alternate mode of communication should your hearing aids be left behind or the batteries die. Personal Sound Amplification Devices are great backup options because they can be purchased over the counter, are relatively affordable, and work to amplify all sounds on an even plane. These devices can come in handy in a pinch and should be included in your kit if possible. Better yet, if you’ve ever upgraded your hearing aids, think about storing your old ones in your emergency kit – along with the appropriate batteries. If your hearing loss is more profound, make sure you have a pen and paper handy for written communication if all else fails.
3. Keep Extra Batteries With You
This one is simple, but all too often overlooked or forgotten. It is recommended by the Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), that hearing aid users keep an entire month’s worth of hearing aid batteries with them in their emergency kits. It is also important to have a waterproof container to keep your batteries or spare hearing aids dry in case of extreme weather.
4. Know Your Resources
Rely on your friends for support. As HHF states, “the buddy system is not just for toddlers”. In case of emergency, have 2-3 people in state and 1 person out-of-state that will check in on you and ensure you are safe in case of a disaster. If you live in an urban area, you can also reach out to your city Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) to see what types of emergency alerts or systems are available to assist people with a hearing impairment. If your hearing aids are equipped with a t-coil, make sure you take a few minutes to teach yourself how to activate the system. This could mean the difference between hearing emergency instructions and knowing exactly what to you or being in the dark. Another important resource is something you can keep in your very own home. Look into purchasing visual fire alarms equipped with strobe lighting in case of an emergency.
Hearing Spa Of Florida
At Hearing Spa of Florida, our hearts go out to anyone who has lost loved ones or become displaced in the hands of Hurricane Irma or any other natural disaster. We care about the safety of you and your family during hurricane season as well as any other season of the year and hope you remain safe, happy and healthy.
Additional Contacts And Resources
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): fema.gov
Ready (part of Homeland Security): ready.gov
Department of Labor’s Disability Resources: disability.gov
If you are Deaf or have a hearing loss and would like more resources on developing an emergency preparation plan, please contact us at Hearing Spa of Florida or email the Hearing Health Foundation at us at firstname.lastname@example.org.