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The quickest way to alert someone of an emergency is through their hearing: blaring ambulance sirens, beeping smoke detectors, resounding burglar alarms etc. These sounds require immediate attention and urgent action, but if you can barely hear, or not hear these warnings, your reaction time could be dangerously delayed. Read these five emergency-preparedness tips for the deaf and hearing impaired to help ensure that a hearing impairment doesn’t compromise your safety or the safety of those you care about.

1. Prepare an emergency kit to save time and possibly save a life. For the deaf or hearing impaired, be sure to include the following in your emergency kit:

  • Pen and paper to communicate with a respondent if verbal communication is difficult or impossible.
  • Waterproofed/sealed containers large enough to hold hearing aids or cochlear implants.
  • Four weeks-worth of hearing aid batteries
  • Communication cards for fast communication and immediate needs i.e. “water,” “food”
  • Phone number of a hearing aid company if your device needs repair
  • Phone number for local communication centre in case an interpreter is needed
  • Flashlight and batteries for sign language if required

2. Set Up Additional Safety Alerts

You can purchase devices that shake your bed or flash strobe lights to alert you in other ways if a traditional alarm may not work. Note: consult your doctor before setting up any of these devices to avoid triggering other medical conditions. For example, strobe lights could trigger seizures.

3. Test Your Emergency Alarms Monthly or Whenever There is a Low Battery Signal

Everyone should have their emergency alarms regularly tested to ensure they are working properly, but for the hearing impaired, testing is even more crucial. Many alarms beep when their battery is low, but this may not be heard by those who have hearing loss. Setting up time every month to check your alarms will help ensure that they work properly if an emergency does happen.

4. Prepare a Safety Plan and Share it With Your Friends and Family

When urgent action is needed, trying to communicate a plan, especially with those who have hearing loss, can be stressful in the moment. Conduct emergency evacuation drills and outline safety procedure before the emergency occurs.

5. Keep Your Hearing Aids in a Secure, Easily Accessible Location

There is limited time to act during an emergency. You don’t want to spend time looking for your aids. Keep your hearing aids on your nightstand for easy access when you wake up.

Stay safe and keep these five tips in mind when preparing for an emergency with those who have hearing loss.

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