Think about the last time there was a threatening weather event, such as a serious snowstorm, tornado, hurricane, or tropical storm. How did you find out that the dangerous weather was on the way? Most of us find out about these harsh conditions days in advance, whether on the television, radio, Internet, print media, or through word of mouth. With the knowledge that a dangerous event is coming, we are able to prepare as best we can, stocking up on essentials like water, gasoline, and food, as well as taking care of household preparations, such as weatherproofing. With information comes power, and this forewarning is necessary for us to take our safety into our own hands during such catastrophic events. However, things are more complicated for people with hearing loss.
Challenges with Alert Systems
Systems are in place to alert people to the dangers of serious weather when they might not have heard about them ahead of time. In other cases, weather patterns can pop up almost without warning, leaving all of us scrambling to secure our homes and to prepare for the worst. When such dangerous events come our way, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is tasked with making sure that everyone knows about the danger before it strikes. They have tended to rely on information dissemination mechanisms such as the Emergency Broadcast System or Federal Communications Commission’s Wireless Alerts System to make sure everyone knows about impending danger through the weather. Yet, these systems rely heavily on the public’s ability to hear.
When these harsh conditions descend upon us, the Emergency Broadcast System interrupts television and radio programming with alerts and warnings, set off by a harsh alarm system. Those who hear this series of beeps will snap to attention, taking note of the information about when and where danger looms. What about those who do not hear those audio warnings? The hard-of-hearing, hearing impaired, and deaf communities have spent decades advocating for the safety of those who cannot hear these warnings. Many options have been put in place, including closed captioning on televisions. Some communities rely on their own information networks to pass along the news of danger.
Using Technology to Your Advantage
One of the most important innovations in safety technology for the hearing-impaired community relies on visual and tactile alerts from smartphones. When a person is mapped in the location of danger through GPS in the wireless network, a series of alerts will make sure the person is aware of dangers. For those who can hear them, audio alarms will sound off, many of them functioning in the case of emergency even if others sounds have been set to “silent.” Those who rely on the other senses have a number of options. Individual smartphone technology can be set to alert the user during emergencies with flashing lights or powerful vibrations. These alerts are some of the most effective ways to capture the attention of the users who cannot rely on their hearing.
Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
Of course, one of the best safety measures you can take in the event of emergency is to have hearing assistive technology in place. Those who already have hearing aids should take the news of danger as an opportunity to put hearing aids in place. Try to keep them charged, and those who use hearing aids with removable batteries should keep some extras on hand. If you are told that dangerous weather is on the way, it might be a good opportunity to keep all your senses functioning at their best. If alarms, other alerts, or spoken communication are necessary in the event of an emergency, you will want to make the process as easy as possible for yourself.
Posey Hearing Center
If you are concerned about your hearing abilities but have not yet sought out hearing aids, take the opportunity to visit us at Posey Hearing Center. Although visual and tactile alerts are available, hearing aids are an excellent additional safety measure when it comes to a weather emergency. Make an appointment with us right away to take the steps toward better hearing. You never know how hearing aids might help you when disaster strikes, and it is best to have them available to you if it does!