Preparing for disaster when you have hearing loss

One in six New Zealanders have a hearing impairment so an earthquake presents additional challenges to them both during and after the quake.

‘Drop, cover and hold’ is the best way to protect yourself during an earthquake. But, are you prepared for the days after an earthquake?

Make sure you’re prepared for a natural disaster by investing in assistive listening devices such as personal amplifiers, smoke alarms and alerts for doorbells and incoming telephone calls.

These devices work in conjunction with hearing aids, or are specially designed to alert those who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Check out Civil Defence’s useful Get Thru website for range of resources, including a video specially designed for people with hearing impairment. It contains useful information about natural hazards, and provides advice on how to be prepared. It is presented in New Zealand sign language and is also captioned.

There’s a handy template to help you create a household emergency plan, with a checklist that lets you know exactly what survival items, food, water and first aid supplies you will need.

Conceptual image about human hearing. Soundwave and human ear

Conceptual image about human hearing. Soundwave and human ear

If you experience hearing loss, additional items to put in your emergency kit include a pad and paper, old hearing aids to use as spares, and extra batteries for your hearing devices.

Telecommunications may be affected following a natural disaster. That’s why it’s important to build a support network before disaster strikes.

A support network should consist of at least three friends, family members or neighbours who can alert you to civil defence warnings and keep you informed.

Remember to let your support network know if you’re travelling away from home, and when staying in a hotel or motel, let management know to alert you in the event of an emergency.

The New Zealand Police also operates a service that allows deaf and hearing impaired users to text police, fire and ambulance emergency services from a mobile phone. Users must register for 111TXT to be able to use this valuable, life-saving service.