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E-Michigan Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.

Emergency & Disaster Preparedness

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Emergency & Disaster Preparedness!

People in Michigan face emergencies every year. Snowstorms, tornadoes, floods, chemical spills and other disasters put people in danger. National security threats, like terrorist attacks, may also cause a state of emergency.

There are many sources of information to help you prepare. However, if you are deaf or hard of hearing, or if you care about someone who is, extra steps are needed. That's why we have developed this web site, so that people with hearing loss in Michigan are ready too!

The following information is a guide only for possible situations that may happen to you in Michigan. This guide is specific to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. You will need more information than is provided here to help you prepare.

Visit for complete instructions to plan for an emergency or disaster.

Remember that you may need to survive on your own after a disaster.

Emergency Preparation in ASL

See the DODHH "Preparing for a Public Health Emergency" in American Sign Language at: The Michigan Department of Community Health's Office of Public Health Preparedness made this project possible.

Emergency Responder Training Video

This online EMT training video from CEPIN is designed to teach about responding to emergencies for patients that are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf/blind. The production quality is excellent, but be patient while it loads.

Some of the video features are:

  • subtitles
  • expert interviews
  • demos and simulations
  • introduction segment
  • specific tips for emergency responders

Watch the full video below or browse to EMT training video to learn more. This video was produced by CEPIN.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing People in an Emergency

Deaf and hard of hearing people may not get important information quickly in a disaster. Emergency alerting systems often depend on sound. For example, many deaf and hard of hearing people cannot hear tornado sirens. Television has visual alerts, but closed captions may block emergency messages as they crawl across the bottom of the screen. Sometimes cable companies will interrupt all the stations and put up a sign that says "Emergency Alert!" A voice may explain the emergency, but this is not helpful to people with hearing loss. Many people with hearing loss cannot hear the radio.

Deaf and hard of hearing people and their loved ones must take extra steps to be sure they are alerted in an emergency.

Finding Out About an Emergency

Emergency Alert Text to Sidekick

The Michigan Coalition for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People is working to update the Emergency Alerting System in Michigan. An updated Emergency Alerting System is needed to save the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people during an emergency situation. The Coalition is advocating for a text system that will send information to Sidekicks, Blackberries and other mobile phones. Most people keep their mobile phone close by, even if they are not watching TV or a computer.

To find out more or to get involved in helping Michigan's deaf and hard of hearing people prepare for emergencies, join the Michigan Coalition for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People. See: Michigan Coalition for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People

Make sure you, and the deaf and hard of hearing people you care about, KNOW when an emergency is occurring. People with hearing loss cannot depend on the Emergency Alerting System that is currently in place. Though it is improving, you must take extra steps to be sure you know when a disaster is happening. The more of these actions you take, the better off you will be in an emergency. Do not depend on only one method.

  1. Sign up for a FREE text messaging service that will alert you to an emergency on your mobile phone. will send text messages to your Sidekick, Blackberry, mobile phone or computer. You can choose the counties to receive alerts about.

  2. Make sure friends and close neighbors know that you need to be alerted in case of an emergency. A neighbor might be willing to wake you in case of a tornado in the middle of the night. That person could call or ring your doorbell.

  3. Find out if your neighborhood has a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Make sure that team, and the local police and fire departments, knows that you need to be alerted in an emergency. Hearing people may not realize that people in their community are not hearing alerts. You need to tell them your needs.

  4. NOAA Weather/All Hazard Alert Radio with Text Messages. These radios are specially designed to receive emergency information. The radios have an alarm feature that will alert you to an emergency. Some radios can be connected to strobe lights, bed shakers, etc. When the alarm goes off, there will be a short text message such as "tornado." Some radios can be used with an induction loop and the t-coil on hearing aids or cochlear implant speech processors. Learn more about the NOAA radios at:

  5. Reverse 911 is available in some communities. This service will call YOU in an emergency. Check with your local emergency management office to find out if Reverse 911 is available and if they have TTY capabilities.

  6. If your computer is operating (be careful during thunderstorms), check these web sites for emergency information. Also, check the web sites for your local news radio and television stations.

Before an Emergency Happens: Be Prepared!

When disaster happens, everything must be ready. There may not be time to look for or buy the items you need. Think about how much time and planning is required for a vacation! In an emergency, you might be "camping" for a long time. Remember seeing people stuck on their roofs when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans? They didn't have time to pack!

The following information will help you get ready now. If something happens, you will have the peace of mind of being prepared.

The following information will help you get ready. Click each item to learn more about getting ready, or just read below.

Make a List of Belongings

Make an itemized list of personal property (include serial numbers)

Be sure to include hearing aids and assistive devices. These items can be expensive and you may need proof of ownership for the insurance company.

Make an Emergency Supply Kit

Emergency Kit

See Ready America to pack your Emergency Supply Kit. People with hearing loss will also need to pack the following:

  • Batteries for hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive devices

  • A non-electric dri-aid jar or kit to keep equipment safe and dry.

  • Cell phone, Sidekick or other two-way pager and charging plug for vehicles

  • Access to a regular landline phone (not cordless), battery powered amplifier, or battery powered TTY that does not require electricity

Basic First Aid Kit

Basic First Aid Kit

In an emergency, someone may be cut, burned or hurt in other ways. With basic supplies, you will be better able to help your loved ones. Remember, many injuries are not life threatening and do not require immediate medical attention. Knowing how to treat minor injuries is important in an emergency. Consider taking a first aid class. If you are ready you may be able to stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination.

See Ready America for more about a Basic First Aid Kit.

Make a Plan

Be ready with different options to use, depending on the situation.

For complete information for making a plan see Ready America

Develop a Family Communication Plan

Develop Phone Calls List

Be sure to plan carefully for contacting family members who are deaf or hard of hearing. Before an emergency happens, set up a place to meet if you are unable to make contact by phone. Amplified phones, TTY's and computers may not work. In a public place, accessible communication may not be available. Think through different situations and consider how you will contact your family.

At Work and School

Contact at School/Work

Think about where your family spends time: school, work and other places. Does your children's school have an emergency plan? Also, ask your employer about their emergency plans.

Learn how these public places will communicate during an emergency. Do they have plans for keeping people who are deaf or hard of hearing informed during an emergency? Advocate now for accessible communication, before it is too late.

Remember, schools already have plans to protect students who are in the building during an emergency. This may include a "lock down," which means the children cannot leave. It is important to know the school's polices and procedures for emergency events. Double check that deaf and hard of hearing children will be informed during an emergency!

Service Animals and Pets

Take animals with you in an emergency. If you have dogs, keep them on a leash until the storm or emergency passes. Even if the dog normally stays near you without a leash, the animal may act very different when frightened. Hang on to the leash. Also, if possible, take some pet food in case you need to stay elsewhere for a few days

Tornados or Very Severe Storms

Tornado happening

If you live in Michigan, you probably know what to do when a tornado is heading your way. It is good to remind everyone in your family about what to do, before there is a dangerous storm.

See Ready America for a complete list of tips.

People with hearing loss should be sure to have these items ready in a tornado or very severe storm (and keep them tucked closely by you in case your home is damaged):

  • Batteries for hearing aids, cochlear Implants, and assistive devices

  • A dri-aid jar or kit to keep equipment safe and dry

  • Flashlight with extra new batteries

  • Candle with matches

  • A cell phone or text pager with car charger

  • Battery-powered radio (if someone in your home can hear well enough) or weather/hazard radio with text messaging (see ) )

What to do if there is FLOODING


Floods do occur in Michigan. Floods are not always because of weather. A flood can happen when water pipes burst, or when a toilet, tub, sink or washing machine backs up. Sometimes a city sewer line will back up into a home. Most floods happen when there are long, heavy rainstorms that may overwhelm the drainage system.

Michigan's last big floods were in 1985 and 1986. On September 10-12,1986, flooding killed ten people and caused an estimated $400 to $500 million of damage. Hardest hit cities were Vassar, Frankenmuth, Saginaw, Bay City and Midland.

Sometimes floods happen when there is an unusually warm winter day. Snow melts rapidly, but the ground is still frozen. Street drainage pipes may also be frozen, so there is no place for all the extra water to go. When the frozen ground cannot absorb all the sudden water, and the drainage pipes are blocked with ice, there may be a flood. It is important to keep storm drains clear of junk, trash, leaves and sticks.

To prepare for flooding, see Ready America.

Other Emergencies and Disasters

Biological Hazards

There are many types of emergencies and disasters that can happen without warning. There are specific things to remember in each situation. To help you prepare see Ready America.

Sources & Resources

To get involved in helping Michigan's deaf and hard of hearing people prepare for emergencies, join the Michigan Coalition for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People. See (E-Michigan About Us)

Ready America:

NAD Advocacy on Emergency Preparedness

DHHCAN Emergency Preparedness Report

Deaf Preparedness Brochure by NTID and Rochester Red Cross

National Fire Protection Association Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide
This document has a whole chapter on people with hearing loss.

Names to Know

In an emergency or disaster situation, it will help to know what these names and initials mean.

CDC Centers for Disease Control

CEPIN Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network

CERT Community Emergency Response Teams

DHS Department of Homeland Security

EAS Emergency Alert System

EOC Emergency Operations Center

FCC Federal Communication Commission

FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency

ICC Interagency Coordinating Council

MEMA Michigan Emergency Management Association

MEMO Michigan Emergency Management Organization

NCAM National Center for Accessible Media

NCD National Council on Disability

NERR National Emergency Resource Registry

NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NOD National Organization on Disability

NWS National Weather Service

OPHP Office of Public Health Preparedness

PPW Partnership for Public Warning

PSAP Public Safety Answering Points

RERC Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center

TAP Technology Access Program

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