Between 35-45 million Americans live with hearing loss, but fewer than 20% of these people wearing hearing aids daily. Minimizing or denying the seriousness of their hearing loss subjects them to compounding side effects, not only damaging their careers and their relationships, but unnecessarily heightening the risk to their physical safety, and emotional and psychological health.
Hearing loss frequently comes on so gradually that it is impossible for someone to notice the transformation that they are going through. This is why annual hearing exams are so important. There is no alternative to get as objective of an assessment of exactly how your hearing measures up. Hearing loss, when treated appropriately, should not disrupt your lifestyle any more than wearing glasses does.
But taking responsible action does not simply begin and end with wearing hearing aids. The same emergency preparedness that everyone has to deal with, for example, will ask a little more of you than most people. This handy guide will explain exactly what steps you should take now to prepare for the worst if you depend on your hearing aids.
Emergency Preparedness with Hearing Loss
Disasters of all manners can strike anyone, anytime and though no one likes to dwell on it, appropriate preparedness can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a life-shattering event, or even the difference between life and death. Whether it is an electrical fire in your home or a tornado that flattens your community, having a plan in place will help you keep calm so that you can make smart decisions instead of panic. And a plan like this is extra important for people that live with hearing loss. And knowing that the necessary resources and procedures are in place should give you and your loved ones confidence every day that you are ready if disaster should strike.
Confirm that you are registered with all the available emergency alert systems in your area. And confirm that your contact information is up to date with them. Redundancy can’t hurt. Sign up for more than one. Notifications will usually be sent by text, but many hearing aids nowadays also connect directly to your smart phone, so you can also receive alerts via bluetooth.
Reach out to the emergency management offices in your area to double check that they offer Reverse 911 via TTY. They will contact you in the event of an emergency,.
Make sure that the fire alarms in your home also have a visual dimension to them. This will most often be strobe lights. Pick a date each month and put a reminder on your calendar to test the batteries. This is especially important for anyone with hearing loss because they will not hear the alarms beeping to notify them that the battery needs changing.
Communication and Planning
Have backup emergency communication systems ready to go at any moment. This means a landline phone, a battery-powered amplifier, and a battery-powered TTY phone ready to use as soon as you may need them.
Know where your Emergency Contact List is and keep it nearby. And beyond just your family and friends, this list should include the numbers for your hearing healthcare professional, whoever you use to repair your devices, and an interpreter should one become necessary.
Notify your mayor’s office and every local community organization of your specific needs.
Make sure that a couple local friends and someone far away all know when to check up on you.
And use social media regularly to update everyone of your condition and needs.
Your Emergency Preparedness Kit
Keep every supply that you may need ready to go in a convenient spot. This includes a couple extra power sources for your devices. Make sure to have a month’s worth of extra hearing aid batteries. Invest in a portable charging pack that uses solar power or stores energy. If you use cochlear implants, double check that you have a portable charger for those.
Keep plenty of waterproof containers around so that you can store your hearing aids in them if extreme weather strikes.
A simple pen and paper can be indispensable tools to expedite communication. You can even prepare basic cards in advance, such as “food” or “water.”
A flashlight will be required for lip reading and sign language in the dark.
Take the initiative to confirm right now that you have all the tools that you may need on hand. The, god forbid an emergency should strike, you will have the confidence to keep calm and respond accordingly.