Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Disaster Tips

Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants

Store hearing aid(s) and external speech processor(s) for your implants where you can easily find them after a disaster. For example, you could keep them in a container by your bedside and attach the container to a nightstand or bedpost using a string or Velcro. Missing or damaged hearing devices will be difficult to replace or fix immediately after a major disaster.


  • Store extra batteries for hearing aids and implants.
  • Keep your mobile wireless devices, captioned telephones and other communication equipment charged.
  • Consider keeping two phone chargers available - one that comes with the current phone model and one that has the USB cable cord .
  • Maintain batteries and store extras for your communications equipment. Check the owner's manual for proper battery maintenance.
  • Invest in a solar charger or hand-crank charger to generate power when there is no electrical power.


  • Know how to communicate with emergency personnel if there is no interpreter or if you don't have your hearing aids. Store paper and pens for this purpose.
  • If possible, learn basic signs or gestures for additional communication support when it becomes difficult to communicate with someone.
  • Use speech-to-text apps on your phone. One communication tool that uses icons is Show Me.
  • Consider carrying a pre-printed copy of important messages with you, such as:
    • "I use American Sign Language (ASL) and need an ASL interpreter."
    • "I do not write or read English."
    • "If you make announcements, I will need to have them written or signed."
  • Create and print a Communication Card or ASL emergency booklet to communicate when needed.

Alarms and Alerts

  • Install smoke alarms that give signals that can be both seen and heard. At least one smoke alarm should be battery operated.
  • Invest in a NOAA Weather Radio to receive alerts about extreme heat or cold weather and other hazards.
  • Check your phone settings to receive the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) that are automatically activated when you are in or near a disaster zone.
  • Sign up with your local county emergency management agency to receive localized messages for your community. Sign up in other locations where you work or attend school.
  • Monitor television broadcasts for captioned emergency reports.
  • Sign up for Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) that will include text and ASL alerts.


  • Recruit interpreters to be Red Cross emergency volunteers.
  • Contact one of the Department of Social and Health Services regional service centers nearest to you and speak with an advocate for guidance.
  • Become a subject matter expert in your local community emergency planning group and share resources about access and functional needs.
  • Take the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training when it is offered.
  • Encourage TV stations to broadcast all news and emergency information in open caption format.
  • Encourage TV stations to plan to show interpreters on-camera during the entire emergency news briefings.
  • If possible, share your skills as a volunteer during clean-up and recovery activities.
  • When you travel, ensure hotels have services for deaf and hard of hearing, including visual alarms. Ask for them when you make your reservations or when you check in.

Other Languages

DOH Pub 821-005
Revised - March 2008
Reviewed annually

This document was produced in cooperation with the Emergency Management Division of the Washington State Military Department.