If you’ve ever experienced an emergency, whether medically related or due to another unfortunate disaster, some challenges may have happened when you tried to communicate. These could have included loud sirens going off, poor phone signals, or stressing over trying to communicate quickly, clearly, and efficiently, just to name a few.
For anyone who is deaf or has difficulty with their hearing, this is an additional barrier to effective communication.
The Complications that Come with Communicating during Emergencies
For anyone with normal hearing abilities, sirens and alarms can be so painful and loud that they need to cover their
For some, especially those with high-frequency hearing loss, hearing things like sirens or smoke alarms can be challenging.
Have You Ever Failed to Notice Indirect Cues that Would Alert You to Danger?
Loud sirens are not the only thing that signals impending danger. The ability to hear allows you to be more aware of your surroundings - whether you notice an intruder, a car engine that doesn’t sound right, or the sound of a child’s cry. Hearing also lets you know which direction the danger is coming from. Anyone with hearing problems might unknowingly go towards danger or walk away from someone else’s dangerous situation and neglect to help that person.
Listening and Speaking to First Responders
Following directions from first responders or answering their questions can be challenging. Here are some tips for communicating with others during an emergency.
1. Be prepared. Emergencies are usually unexpected. However, there are ways to prepare how you will manage these situations. Plan a meeting place and what to do after the crisis occurs. Prepare a go-bag with emergency supplies stored inside. Let at least one neighbor that you are friendly with know your plans and ask them to check in on you if they hear your alarm go off.
2. Make sure your alarms and safety devices are updated and functioning correctly. Most smoke and carbon monoxide detectors will make a beeping noise, create a flashing visual cue, or vibrate if a person is in danger. Doorbells that create blinking lights or alarms for a person’s bed shake can also alert hard-of-hearing people of potential threats.
3. Keep your hearing aids on. It’ll be easier to detect danger and communicate while wearing them. Have them fully charged or a pair of new batteries on hand. Recharge the hearing aids by your bed to make them easily accessible if you are awoken suddenly at night.
If you live in an area that frequently experiences earthquakes, place your hearing aids securely in a container next to your bed so they don’t fall off.
Store spare batteries in a designated cool, dry place for emergencies. If you wear rechargeable hearing aids get a portable charger to place in your go-bag to access it easily.
Add your name, phone number, and other information to text alerts instead of phone alerts so emergency messages can be easily accessed and followed. Consider wearing a medical bracelet. It’s a helpful way to provide information about anyone with hearing loss, allergies, or any other serious medical condition. Include details about medications you take, what type of hearing device you wear, or crucial health information.
Keep means of Communication in an Emergency Supply Bag.
Here are some things to keep in mind when packing your supply bag:
Other Things to Keep in Mind for Better Communication
Are You Experiencing Problems with Your Hearing Aids during an Emergency?
If your hearing aids have stopped working during an emergency, rely on your other senses. Get near people who are speaking. Ask them to talk louder, slower, and enunciate their words. Focus your attention on their facial expressions and do your best at lipreading.
Caregivers for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing
If you care about someone hard of hearing, here’s how you can help them during an emergency:
Have good lighting so they can see your face and a quiet space without too many distractions or background noise.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss and need hearing aids, contact us at Northumberland Hearing Center for a hearing evaluation and consultation.
Hearing loss that stays untreated could leave you with severe consequences to your health and quality of life. Every time you hear something, your brain gets exercise. Not receiving help for hearing loss can worsen a patient’s cognitive performance because it shrinks and atrophies the brain. More cases of falls due to imbalance, hospitalizations for these outcomes, and a high risk of depression and dementia caused by social isolation - this may occur due to the challenges that come with communicating while having hearing problems.
Your ability to appreciate TV, movies, music, and nature can be futile due to difficulties with hearing. You’ll begin to feel excluded. The inability to hear can also throw you into an unsafe environment. If you can’t hear a car or emergency vehicle driving in your direction, that can put you and the driver at risk of a collision. Completing tasks at work might be more challenging, and missteps can reoccur. As a result, your income can be affected.
It’s common for people with hearing loss to be in denial over their hearing problems. Instead of seeking help immediately, they’ll ask others to repeat themselves or raise the volume level to whatever they are listening to. Other practical reasons why people may not seek help immediately, or at all, is because they cannot afford it or don’t have health insurance.
A network of support from family, friends, and healthcare providers is necessary for starting their lives toward better hearing.
Things You Can Do for a Loved One with Hearing Loss
Simply be available. This person might need you to listen to their frustrations about hearing and communicating, or maybe there was an incident they need to vent about. You could “be their ears” in social situations if they mishear something or completely miss out on what was said. Be patient and supportive, even if you have no clue what they are experiencing with their struggles.
Point Out that their Hearing Loss also Affects You.
Give a gentle reminder about how you and others who interact with them are also affected by their hearing loss. Whether it’s the need to repeat themselves or safety issues - the inability to hear warning sirens, oncoming vehicles, or news/weather alerts.
How You Can Help a Loved One with their Hearing
Don’t Delay Receiving Help
Like any health issue, the longer you wait to seek a diagnosis and treatment, the more challenging it will be to treat. Untreated hearing loss becomes progressive, which can mean expensive medical care or no treatment options.
Contact Northumberland Hearing Center for a hearing evaluation and consultation.