We celebrated my birthday early this year since no one was going to be home EXCEPT me. The timing worked out well because my college-aged daughter was home for the weekend too.
I expected my birthday to come and go without incident. I spent the day at home preparing for classes – alone, save our furry family members. However, the evening ended up being an exciting adventure in spite of the lack of presents, cake and family. April 27, 2011, was a very windy day here in Maryland. As a matter of fact it was windy and stormy across much of the eastern seaboard. In Maryland we had four tornadoes touch down according to local news and radar.
It’s nice to be living in a day of technology. All evening I received tornado warnings via text on my Blackberry, and the television had constant program interruptions with late-breaking news on area damage and warnings. I spent a great deal of time looking out my front glass door. The trees were bending and swaying. The noise was really something! I guess wind by itself doesn’t make a noise. It isn’t until it comes into contact with other things that sound is created.
I stood, at times, open-mouthed at the major wind storm in our area. I was very vigilant about checking the alerts and listening as closely as I could. On a whim, I removed the coil of my cochlear implant to get an impression of the storm WITHOUT SOUND. It is very different to rely on visual stimuli to notice important things like possible tornadoes. As I stood there “deaf” for a moment or two, I noticed something right away. My hound dog was at the BACK door while I stood at the front. Since she is hardly ever more than a room away from me… I walked to the back door where she stood trembling. I was astonished to see a fallen tree behind our home! When did that come down? I stuck my coil back on my head in order to pick up more cues about what was going on. How did I miss the sound of that tree coming down? Thankfully, it missed the townhouse. I enlisted the “muscle” of my 20-year-old son to get the tree down the hill and into the ravine the next day.
I suppose it was because my focus was on what was going on out front that I missed what was going on out BACK. Although I hear very well with my cochlear implant now, I still rely on other cues to get the “whole picture”. Because I was using my eyes and ears together, the sounds I heard were focused on what was happening out front. The sound that accompanied the toppled tree in the back had to be very loud. The trembling hound dog was evidence enough of that! Yet, I didn’t hear it.
Emergencies and Hearing Loss
I believe the key to coping with and surviving any emergency is preparedness. Below is a number of wonderful resources for people with hearing loss in the event of an emergency. These resources are terrific – but having a PLAN is still a necessary component of being prepared when emergencies occur.
1. The Michigan Deaf and Hard of Hearing People have put together a wonderful resource of how to prepare and special links. You can check it out here.
2. Jenilee Perlas put together a terrific PDF file that covers hearing loss in an emergency. Check it out here.
3. One of my favorite online resources for “anything hearing loss” with an excellent series of articles that are updated frequently (the latest being April of 2011), is Hearing Loss Web. You can access it here.
4. A great list of tips from the American Red Cross for people with hearing loss in preparing for emergencies may be accessed here.
5. A great resource from the U.S. Fire Association that provides tips in how people with hearing loss can be safe before, during and after a fire may be downloaded here.
6. A fact sheet in surviving an earthquake from the Independent Resource Center of San Francisco may be viewed here.
7. Finally, NOAA has a wonderful resource in how to access weather-related emergency information through a weather radio. You can access this information here.
Whether you live alone or with others, it is important to be prepared in the event of an emergency. Preparedness should include the chance that you will be alone even if you live with others. I experienced a very windy birthday without the company of the people I normally live with on any other given day! Do you have any other tips or resources you’d like to share? Feel free to leave them in the comment section. Information and shared resources can only help all of us as the likelihood is not IF we experience an emergency – rather WHEN.
© 2011 Personal Hearing Loss Journal