Emergency Preparation Tips for Children with Hearing Loss

Emergency Preparation Tips for Children with Hearing Loss

Handling an emergency can be difficult for everyone, and these challenges can be especially magnified for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Being prepared for these situations and knowing what to do should one occur is critical for families with children who have hearing loss. 

Planning Ahead

It can be impossible to know when an emergency might happen, and many feel like they have nothing to worry about. However, there are several steps you should take so that your child who is deaf or hard of hearing is prepared for the unpredictable situation. 

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Emergency Preparation Tips for Children with Hearing Loss

While a basic emergency kit should always include non-perishable food, water, batteries, a flashlight and first-aid kit, there are additional items that are essential for children with hearing loss.

  • Hearing-assistive technology batteries: It is always wise to have backup devices or batteries for your child’s hearing-assistive technology. Enough product to last a month is generally a good place to start. Be sure to keep these items in sealed, water-proof containers to avoid damage. 
  • Contact information for your child’s team: There may not be time to gather many belongings when an emergency happens. The emergency kit for your child with hearing loss should include contact information for members of his/her team, including teachers, audiologists, physicians, hearing technology companies or other people who may need to be contacted during this time. 
  • Communication assistance: Depending on your child’s age and ability to communicate, it may be wise to include other ways to transmit information to first responders or those unfamiliar with your child. A pen and paper or picture cards may be beneficial for your child with hearing loss. 

Create an Emergency Plan

Another thing that could be added to a child’s emergency kit is a detailed plan of what to do should a dangerous situation arise. Go over this plan with your child periodically so that they are prepared in the event of an emergency, knowing exit routes at home, where to go, who to reach out to and other important information. For younger children, including pictures or easy-to-understand diagrams will make this process easier to follow. 

Fire-Specific Preparations

Many children who are deaf and hard of hearing remove their listening devices when they go to bed. This leaves them vulnerable to certain emergency situations, including a fire. Being unable to hear a fire alarm/smoke detector can put children with hearing loss in danger.

Emergency Preparation Tips for Children with Hearing Loss

Luckily, there are accessories that can be installed independently or added to existing fire alarms that make them more useful to those with hearing loss. Bright strobe lights are one way to bypass any signals missed due to hearing loss. Additionally, vibration signals that can be worn or used to shake a bed or pillow are especially beneficial to sleeping children who do not hear loud smoke alarms. For children with mild hearing loss, a smoke alarm that emits noise at differing decibel levels may be more likely to be detected. Be sure to test different methods ahead of time to find the right combination for your family. 

Identify Yourself

In case of emergency, it may not be possible for your child to communicate with those around him/her. Equipping them with an identification bracelet or card that clearly denotes their hearing loss will let first responders know what to expect when attempting to communicate with your child. These designations can also be beneficial as postings in a house, car (for example, as seat belt covers) or other areas where an emergency may occur. 

Always Be Ready

Nobody wants to be in an emergency situation, but being prepared is essential, especially for families of those with hearing loss. Some simple steps taken ahead of time can pay huge dividends and give your child more peace of mind if he/she is faced with an unforeseen challenge. 

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