Earth… wind and fire. And while we wish this column had us sharing our favorite funk sounds made popular by this band (music is good for our brains, after all!) – Earth… wind and fire remind us that this is the season when Santa Ana winds and brush fires are top of mind. Even the recent Great American Shakeout turns our attention toward earthquakes, too.
Recent fires in Northern California, near Los Angeles, and here in Orange County, all came with unwanted evacuations, and serve as our reminder that we can be better prepared.
That also means making certain, anyone with hearing or balance-related issues, are ready… set… and prepared.
So together, let’s make an ‘action’ plan that covers our needs during emergencies.
Action 1: Create or Update your Emergency Contact List
- Keep our number on your list as well as other medical professionals you may visit.
- If you or loved ones have hearing devices, add the devices’ companies for emergency support or repairs.
- Follow your local city, police and fire departments on social media. Many push out updates during an emergency on social media, reaching a large audience within and outside the impacted area.
- Notify your neighbors, neighborhood watch, homeowners association or property management, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), community block associations, or any other local civic, spiritual or support groups about your needs.
Action 2: Make an Evacuation List
Today. Take a moment and make a list. That way if you ever need to react more quickly than liked, and in less time than desired, you’re as ready as can be. You can even write or add onto the list where the listed items are normally kept. People are constantly surprised by the simple everyday things left behind when distracted.
This list is also crucial should you need to shelter in place. That way you have the items you need, close by, until you can leave.
- Be certain to include devices that help with hearing, sleep, Tinnitus management.
- Be certain to add equipment that helps with balance, such as well-fitting, closed-toe suppor footwear, or items such as canes or walkers.
- If you suffer from vestibular migraine, plan and pack items that minimize the effects of attacks, such as a good pair of protective sunglasses, earplugs or muffs, and hat.
Action 3: Remember to Keep a List of Healthy, Sustainable Food and Water
Whether evacuating, or sheltering in place, keep a list of what is helpful, so you can access those foods as quickly as circumstances may allow.
- Store a gallon of water per person, per anticipated days impacted.
- If you suffer from vestibular migraine, specific fresh and healthy foods may help calm balance systems.
Action 4: Make an Emergency Kit and Keep Additional Hearing Aid Supplies with it
- Add extra hearing device batteries into your emergency kit.
- It’s recommended to have a month’s worth of hearing aid batteries on hand.
- If using rechargeable batteries, consider a portable battery charger, since batteries generally last for about eight hours.
- Procure a waterproof/sealed container to protect devices in extreme heat and weather. This way if you are evacuated and have a packed car, you can protect them from damage.
Action 5: Know What your Device Needs to Power Up and How to Charge it
- Keep a 2nd charger with your emergency bag or evacuation list and test it periodically.
- Depending on the model, cars can charge devices through their USB ports.
- Take the time to read the instructions for your device. Understand charging options.
- If provided a paper copy, either make an additional copy, or ask your doctor’s office to provide you an additional copy. Some instructions may be downloaded directly from the manufacturer’s website.
- Place the instructions inside your kit with the extra batteries or charger.
Action 6: Enact Your Personal Emergency Alert Plan
- Install visual fire alarms with strobe lights.
- Sign up for AlertOC, our local system that acts as a reverse 9-1-1. AlertOC is operated by the County of Orange in collaboration with local cities. They will call you in an emergency. Text messages may also be sent to cell phones, e-mail accounts and hearing impaired receiving devices.
- Sign up for The Emergency Email & Wireless Network alerts at emergencyemail.org
- NOAA Weather Radio provides information about emergencies and is programmed to alert you to any hazards in our area.
Action 7: Have Clear Communication with Authorities and First Responders and Loved Ones
Communication is critical during emergencies.
- Ensure access to a regular landline phone (not cordless), battery-powered amplifier, or battery-powered TTY.
- Have 2-3 friends locally, and one out-of-state, who agree to check up on you in case of an emergency.
- If you have access, use social media to stay in touch and ask friends for help.
If you are deaf or have hearing loss and would like more resources on developing an emergency preparation plan, please contact Hearing Health Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.257.6140 / 888.435.6104 (TTY).
Additional resources are listed below.
Newport-Mesa Audiology Balance & Ear Institute | 949.642.7935 | www.dizziland.com
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) www.fema.gov
Ready (part of Homeland Security) www.ready.gov
Department of Labor’s Disability Resources www.disability.gov