Hurricane Preparedness: Tips for People Who Use Hearing Aids, Assistive Communication Devices

ASHA Stresses Importance of Readiness for People With Hearing, Speech, and Language Disorders

June 17, 2024

(Rockville, MD) With experts predicting an unusually active Atlantic hurricane season this year, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is sharing storm readiness tips for people who use assistive technologies such as hearing aids and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices.

“Storm preparation is necessary for anyone who lives in a high-risk area, but for people who use hearing aids and other assistive devices to communicate, there are additional factors to plan for that are critically important,” said Tena McNamara, AuD, CCC-A/SLP, 2024 ASHA President.

“During weather events when people may become injured, trapped, or displaced, accessing and sharing information can truly mean life or death. If someone uses a device to help them hear or speak, it ideally should be charged and with them at all times. Because this may not be possible if a person evacuates quickly or the power is out, it’s important to make contingency plans.”

ASHA shares the following advice for people who use assistive devices and their families:

  • Keep devices fully charged and near you when you sleep. You’ll want to be able to grab your devices quickly if you need to evacuate. It’s also a good idea to secure them to your nightstand with Velcro or another adhesive.
  • Order extra batteries and cleaning/care supplies. Keep these items—as well as a portable charger or power bank and a user’s manual for your device—in a pre-packed “go bag.” If devices aren’t waterproof, order protective covers to help keep them operational.
  • Always have a backup communication option. If you’re separated from your device or it isn’t working, other modes of communication will be necessary. Low-tech alternatives include writing (keep a notepad and pens with you) and communication boards (i.e., laminated papers with pictures or words that you can point to).
  • Use visual or vibrating alerts. Set up visual or vibrating alert systems for smoke detectors, alarms, and other emergency notifications, if you haven’t already. By having these systems in place, you can ensure that you receive alerts even if you can't hear them. You should also purchase a weather radio. Many weather radios have attachments—like bed shakers and strobe lights in case you can’t hear the alarm—as well as text displays that light up at night so you know what kind of weather warning is coming.
  • Keep a communication card with you. A physical communication card that briefly explains your specific communication challenges or needs can be useful as you interact with first responders and others. Consider including contact information of a trusted communication partner familiar with your communication differences who can provide additional support to first responders when communication breakdowns occur.
  • Program additional vocabulary and information into your AAC devices. Many people may not use particular words often—such as shelter or But such words may become important in a disaster situation. Store emergency contact information, medical details, and key personal information into your AAC device, as well, for quick access.
  • Practice emergency drills. These drills should account for your communication devices and are necessary to practice regularly, to be sure that you and those around you are familiar with the procedures and your needs.

For more information or to interview an expert on this topic, email

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 234,000 members, certificate holders, and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology assistants; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) identify, assess, and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders.

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