Having a plan of action in the case of an emergency is important for everyone. It is especially useful for people with hearing loss who have specific hearing needs that should be planned for and met. As we are experiencing unusual weather patterns, this is a good time to visit your emergency plan and if you do not have one, this is a great reminder to take the time to develop one.
Prepare an emergency hearing aid kit.
Emergency kits are an essential resource that help provide assistance and materials during an unexpected and urgent event. An emergency kit should be assembled beforehand and stored somewhere that is easily accessible and a place you can easily remember. Common emergency kit items include: first aid supplies, food, medications, and clothes. There are additional materials that can be especially useful for people with hearing loss. This includes the following:
- Hearing aid essentials: hearing aids are a necessary item in everyday life for people with hearing loss and are even more important during an emergency. It is critical that you ensure that you have everything needed to support your hearing aid during an emergency. This includes having extra batteries, a waterproof or sealed container to protect your device from extreme weather, a charging port for rechargeable hearing aids, and a dehumidifier to remove any moisture that builds up on the device.
- Communication tools: in the event that you or someone else needs to write something down to communicate specific information, it is useful to have a pen and paper handy.
- Visual aids: enhancing visual capacity is especially useful for people whose hearing is impaired. Keeping a flashlight as well as batteries is a great way to help with this.
Be sure to organize these items in your emergency kit adn to store your kit somewhere that is easily accessible.
2. Sign up for alerts ahead of time.
Emergency conditions or events are typically announced through broadcasting platforms: TV, radio, cell phone alerts etc. This can present unique challenges for people with hearing loss who can easily miss these alerts because they’re difficult to hear. Emergency communications can be especially easy to miss if people are not wearing their hearing aids (during sleep, in the shower etc.). This highlights the importance of setting up additional means of receiving emergency alerts.
A helpful way to avoid this issue is to sign up for alerts ahead of time. This includes visual warning systems like a smoke detector that uses flashing lights for example. Another tip is to apply close captions on your TV so you are able to better follow along any announcements being made. Additionally, it is beneficial to figure out any alternative alert systems that are used in your specific area to communicate emergencies so that you can sign up to have access to these systems.
3. Establish communications plan.
Having a communications plan can help you navigate an emergency more effectively and safely. This should include:
- Identifying at least two emergency contacts. One person should not be in your direct area to avoid them also dealing with the same emergency, ensuring they are reachable.
- Keep your hearing healthcare provider’s information with you just in case you need to reach out with emergency support for your hearing aids.
- Notify any community emergency response teams, community associations, neighborhood watch teams etc. of your hearing needs and have contact numbers available.
Having these contacts available to people who know about your hearing needs can provide you with critical assistance during an emergency.
4. Keep hearing aids in good shape.
Hearing aids are such an essential item for people with hearing loss. They are especially critical during an emergency situation as they increase one’s capacity to hear. It is important to maintain your hearing aids effectively so that they are always operating optimally. You can do this by:
- Practicing a maintenance routine nightly. This includes cleaning your device thoroughly with a soft and dry cloth.
- Taking your hearing aids to be professionally serviced every once in a while which also allows hearing aid specialist to run diagnostic tests to make sure you’re hearing aid is working perfectly and meeting your hearing needs.
- Using a dehumidifier to thoroughly remove any moisture build up.
These are among numerous best practices to keep your hearing aids in great condition.