National Weather Service promotes Deaf Awareness Week

Deaf and Hard of Hearing ways to communicate after a weather emergency
Deaf and Hard of Hearing ways to communicate after a weather emergency. Via National Weather Service.

By Riley Hazel – Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (FPREN)

The National Weather Service (NWS) is recognizing Deaf Awareness Week by releasing weather safety information for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Weather alerts serve as important tools to notify the public of incoming danger, but some may not consider what it’s like to not hear the alarm in the middle of the night or a siren blasting while asleep.

By working with organizations dedicated to the Deaf community NWS offers information and guidance that could be lifesaving in a weather emergency.

A radio is what is recommended to have handy at home to receive forecasts and updates, but they aren’t limited to just offering sound alerts. Some radios come with bed shaker attachments and strobe lights if you can’t hear the alarm. This can turn a radio into a lifeline for those who are deaf.

A hurricane kit may look different than hearing people’s kits. Sound makers, a pen and paper to communicate and extra batteries for hearing aids are recommended items to pack.

Special Needs shelters are designed to meet the needs of people who require assistance that exceeds services provided at a general population shelter. Join the Florida Special Needs Registry to receive information from local emergency management officials about evacuation and sheltering options available near you.

If evacuating, wearing a medical alert tag or bracelet may be helpful to communicate your needs with others.

NWS campaigns have been altered to accommodate people of all abilities. “When thunder roars, go indoors” is a popular safety slogan used by many, but it was suggested to brainstorm a message that the deaf could use. NWS worked with the Deaf community of Alabama and a graphic designer who is deaf to create a new sign and slogan, “See a flash, dash inside.”

NWS produces educational videos on a variety of severe weather topics in American Sign Language and with captions.

Stay informed on how to respond to different types of disasters that could affect your area by downloading the Florida Storms app.

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