Reacting to an emergency situation is difficult enough. We’re going to take a look at how much harder it is if you suffer from hearing loss and discuss some steps you can take to mitigate this.
September has been emergency preparedness month, so for those of you who are living with hearing loss, do you know what to do in the case of an emergency? Do you have a plan and emergency supplies in place?
Essentially emergency preparedness, includes what you'd do, how you'd communicate, what to keep hold of, and where you'd go in the case of an emergency. It is critical if you have hearing loss, to be extra aware and not to panic in an emergency. With a few plans in place, such as an emergency response plan and evacuation plan you'll overcome any emergency.
You must be aware of an emergency, starting with an emergency alert system, for those who suffer with hearing loss, or are completely deaf, there are technologies available which ensure emergency communication systems are installed, with thousands of buildings across the UK already prepared for an emergency.
Nobody wants to tackle an emergency on their own, so make sure you have an emergency support network of your own, perhaps friends, family members, neighbours, or someone close, both at home and in the workplace. People who you can trust with a spare key to your home, who know where to locate your emergency supplies and will stay in contact with you during an emergency. Perhaps someone who would be familiar with your hearing loss and the equipment you use too, ensuring your device is in full working order at all times.
Your plan will require some thinking...
Communication being a vital element to your plan. We'd advise that the most important step in the process of planning would be to sign up to the EmergencySMS service, registering your phone to send an SMS text message to the UK 999 service where it will be passed to the police, ambulance, fire rescue, or coastguard, whichever is the most appropriate for your emergency.
Communication could also entail emergency planning steps such as pre-written phrases, or keeping a pen and paper to hand, to voice how you require certain actions, e.g. “I have hearing loss, I wear a hearing aid, please face me and speak". Some people choose to install the ICE app (In Case of Emergency) on their smart phone. Other phone apps include information stored such as emergency contacts, blood type, and details about your hearing loss on the mobile phone lock screen, which can be accessed by others without the need for a password.
Many doctors will advise that you collect and organise up to date medical health information and relevant phone numbers together, to store somewhere which is easily accessible in an emergency.
An evacuation plan is essential to deal with an emergency, such as a burning building or a gas leak etc. meeting places should be stated for all public buildings and a home plan should be agreed away from the building, locations should again be known by your support network. Remember to practice your escape route regularly, to ensure there is no confusion in a real-life event. You should never return to a building which is in a state of emergency!
Transportation is also a key element of any emergency plan, perhaps learn alternative ways to drive home if your usual roads are blocked, or alternatively different forms of public transport.
Finally, an emergency supply kit should be created incase you are evacuated and sheltered somewhere for a longer period of time. Emergency supplies may include the following:
- Your hearing aids/devices and spare batteries
- Torch and charged batteries
- Copies of important documents such as insurance cards and a photo ID
- A list of current medications and dosage instructions
- Contact information of your support network
- A form of money
- Paper and pen
- Mobile phone
- Whistle to gain attention if required.
Please familiarise yourself with your emergency plans, we hope of course that you will not need to action them, however being prepared could save your life!
-Nathan Gluck Hearing Care -
Registered Healthcare Professional