TIPS FOR PEOPLE WITH COMMUNICATION DISABILITES
Considerations for 72 Hour Emergency Kits:
- Store extra batteries for hearing aids and implants. If available, keep an extra hearing aid with your emergency supplies.
- Store extra batteries for your accessible communication technologies and light phone signaler. Check your manual for proper maintenance advice.
- Obtain an alternative power source (power converter, batteries) if you use a computer or laptop as a means of frequent communication.
- Cell phone, Sidekick or other two-way pager and charging plug for vehicles
- Access to a regular landline phone (not cordless), battery powered amplifier, or battery powered accessible communication technologies that do not require electricity.
- Store hearing aids or adaptive equipment in a consistent, convenient and secured place, so you can quickly and easily locate them after a disaster. Consider storing them in a container attached to your night stand or bed post. Missing or damaged hearing aids and equipment will be difficult to replace or fix following a major disaster.
- Invest in a battery-operated charger for your pager or cell phone, if you use one.
Considerations for Communication:
- Determine how you will communicate with emergency personnel if there is no interpreter or if you do not have your hearing aid(s). Store paper and pens.
- Consider carrying a pre-printed copy of key phrases, such as “I use American Sign Language (ASL) and need an ASL interpreter.”
- If possible, obtain a battery-operated television that has a decoder chip for access to signed or captioned emergency reports.
- Determine which broadcasting systems will provide continuous news that will be captioned and/or signed.
- Store paper, writing materials, copies of a word or letter board and pre-printed key phrases specific to anticipated emergencies in all your emergency kits, your wallet, purse, etc.
- Determine how you will communicate with emergency personnel if you do not have your communication devices (augmentative communication device, word board, artificial larynx).
- Be sure to plan carefully for contacting family members who are deaf or hard of hearing. Before an emergency happens, set up a place to meet if you are unable to make contact by phone. Amplified phones, accessible communication technologies, and computers may not work. In a public place, accessible communication may not be available. Think through different situations and consider how you will contact your family.
- Do not get rid of your accessible communication technologies, even if you rarely use it. You may need the accessible communication technology and your home phone to make calls if your videophone or internet is down. Also, make sure your accessible communication technology is in full operating order. A fully-charged accessible communication technology can keep running for several hours without power.
Considerations for Notifications:
Deaf and hard of hearing people may not get important information quickly in a disaster. Emergency alerting systems often depend on sound. For example, many deaf and hard of hearing people cannot hear tornado sirens. Television has visual alerts, but closed captions may block emergency messages as they crawl across the bottom of the screen. Sometimes cable companies will interrupt all the stations and put up a sign that says “Emergency Alert!” A voice may explain the emergency, but this is not helpful to people with hearing loss. Many people with hearing loss cannot hear the radio.
- Some news broadcasts may provide 800 numbers to call to find out whether or not to evacuate or to provide additional emergency information or resources. You can use your accessible communication technology and a state relay service to call these numbers.
- Do not depend on only one method. Some additional options include:
- Many cities and counties in Colorado offer a citizen alert service that allows you to choose your method of notifications that can include a text alert to your mobile phone. Please contact your local city or county to determine if this service is available in your area.
- Make sure friends and close neighbors know that you need to be alerted in case of an emergency. A neighbor might be willing to wake you in case of a tornado in the middle of the night. That person could call or ring your doorbell.
- Find out if your neighborhood has a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Make sure that team, and the local police and fire departments, knows that you need to be alerted in an emergency. Hearing people may not realize that people in their community are not hearing alerts. You need to tell them your needs.
- NOAA Weather/All Hazard Alert Radio with Text Messages. These radios are specially designed to receive emergency information. Some radios can be connected to strobe lights, bed shakers, etc. When the alarm goes off, there will be a short text message such as “tornado.” Some radios can be used with an induction loop and the t-coil on hearing aids or cochlear implant speech processors. Learn more about the NOAA radios at: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/special_need.htm
- A reverse notification system is also available in some communities. This service can call YOU in an emergency. Check with your local emergency management office to find out if this system is available and if they have accessible communication technology capabilities.
- If your computer is operating (be careful during thunderstorms), check these web sitesfor emergency information. Also, check the web sites for your local city and or county and news radio and television stations.www.weather.gov
- Think about where you and your family spends time: school, work and other places. Does your children’s school have an emergency plan? Also, ask your employer about their emergency plans.Learn how these public places will communicate during an emergency. Advocate now for accessible emergency communication..
- · Remember, schools already have plans to protect students who are in the building during an emergency. This may include a “lock down,” which means the children cannot leave. It is important to know the school’s policies and procedures for emergency events
- Make arrangements to take public transportation ahead of time as another option for evacuation. Make sure you have enough money to use public transportation.
- Find our more information on preparing a kit, making a plan, and preparing for any emergency go to: www.ready.gov