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  • Disaster Preparedness & The Hearing Impaired Community
    7 Oct , 2016












































    (The hearing impaired community face some challenges during a disaster which differ from the average hearing person. We at A Atlantic realized that for some people in Florida, this was your first hurricane you experienced while having hearing issues. Below are some helpful tips and important information sources for you to take note of).


    You and your family could be anywhere when disaster strikes – at work, at school or in the car. How will you find each other and what will you do?


    Emergencies and disasters can strike quickly and without warning and can force you to evacuate (leave) your neighborhood or be confined to (stay in) your home. What would you do if basic services – water, gas, electricity or communications – were cut off?


    Local officials and relief workers may not be able to reach everyone right away. You can deal with disaster better by preparing in advance and by working with your family, neighbors and friends as a team.


    Follow the steps listed to be more prepared.


    The Steps to Preparedness

    1. Get Informed

    2. Make a Plan

    3. Build a Kit

    4. Maintain your Plan & Kit

    (When Disaster Strikes, Have An Emergency Contact Card Made In Advance)



    Hearing Aids**

    Consider storing your hearing aids in a container by your bedside which is attached to your nightstand using Velcro. Some disasters may shift items that are not secured making them difficult to find quickly.


    Get Informed, Community Hazard Assessment.
    What hazards threaten your community and neighborhood?


    Make a list of how they might affect you. Think about both natural (e.g.hurricanes, flooding, and human-caused (e.g. hazardous materials and transportation accidents) and about your risk from those hazards.


    Self Assessment


    What are your personal abilities and limitations that may affect your response to disaster?

    • Do you live alone?
    •Do you drive and own a car? What are your communication preferences?
    • Do you use ASL?
    • Do you lip read?
    • Do you need an interpreter?
    • Do you communicate verbally?
    • Do you have any residual hearing?
    • Are you able to hear on a telephone?


    Community Disaster Plans

    Ask about the emergency plans and procedures that exist in places you and your family spend time such as your workplace, school or day care center. What if your child’s school needs to reach
    you in a disaster? How can you work with them to include your communication and hearing needs in their plan? Include this in your personal family plan also.

    Know about your community’s response and evacuation plans (e.g. hurricane, nuclear, extreme weather). If you do not own a vehicle or drive, find out in advance what your community’s plans are for evacuating those without private transportation or connect with a neighbor that you could travel with.


    Community Warning Systems (How will you be notified?)

    This is of concern to those of us who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Know how local authorities will warn you of a pending or current disaster situation and how they will provide information to you before, during and after a disaster.

    Unfortunately your city or county government’s disaster communication plan may not fully address your needs. Remember that if their plan is not perfect then your personal plan will need to fill those gaps. Often one solution is not enough but a combination would provide for a sufficient plan. Here are some options:


    Friends, Family & Neighbors

    Before a disaster happens, it is a good idea to make connections with your neighbors. Let them know
    your needs in an emergency situation; ask them how they could assist with your plan and whether they would be willing to help. How can your family or friends help? Consider that during some emergencies travel is severely limited and they may not be able to get to you.


    ***Choose an ‘Out-of-Town’ Contact

    Set up an out-of-town contact. If family members/friends are separated during a disaster all of you should contact this person. Everyone must know how to make contact (TTY, email, pager, instant messenger, etc) and this should be included in your plan. Consider the effects that a power outage may have in reaching this person.


    Local Neighborhood Emergency Teams

    Connect with a group in your local neighborhood. Some of these could include CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), neighborhood watch, community block associations, churches, etc. Even if you feel you cannot become a member let them know your needs and ask them how they could assist with your disaster plan.


    Local Volunteer Fire Depts

    Connect with your local volunteer fire department or ambulance and let them know your needs (especially if you live in a less urban area). Discuss with them how they might be able to assist in your disaster plan.


    Local EAS (Emergency Alert System) TV Stations

    Most TV stations are mandated to display emergency broadcasts (including captioning or on-screen scrolls). Find out which stations broadcast on the EAS system and check that they close caption their entire emergency broadcast. It would also be a good idea to have a battery powered television so that
    you can view these broadcasts even if you have no power.


    Sign up for free to receive immediate emergency alerts that can be sent to you as an email, text message or page to your computer, pager or PDA.


    NOAA Weather Radio/All Hazard Alert Radio

    These special radios provide one of the earliest warnings of weather and other emergencies and are programmed to alert you to hazards in your specific area. Many models come with strobe attachments and limited text screen displays. Check individual models to see whether they meet your specific needs. Visit www.nws.noaa.gov for more information.


    Reverse 911

    Some communities have a reverse 911 system that can contact you in an emergency. Contact your local emergency management office to ask them whether this is available in your area, whether it can interface with a TTY and how it could possibly meet your needs.


    Internet Sites

    There are some websites that can provide you with breaking emergency alerts. However care should be taken to not use a computer during an electrical storm. Also consider how you would access the internet if power is out.

    www.weather.gov (NOAA)
    www.weather.com (The Weather Channel)




    Source: American Red Cross, Rochester Institute of technology.
    Image credit: Rochester Institute of technology