As someone who has been studying, learning, and tracking severe weather for the last seven years, I know how serious severe weather can be. Living in North Carolina for most of my life, I’ve gone through a few outbreaks: the biggest and most recent ones being the April 16, 2011, April 25-27, 2011 and April 25, 2014 outbreaks. (I’m sure there are more from before then, but I didn’t really start paying attention to the weather until October 2010.)
When you don’t know much about the weather, trying to figure out what’s going on can be a pain. It’s often difficult for it to be accessible to hearing people who know very little about it. (Some of it is real ignorance and some of it is they just don’t care.) But there are a lot of people who do care about what’s going on and want to be prepared, like d/Deaf and hard of hearing people who may not be able to hear the sirens (which are only there for people outside) or the storm itself. Most storms do not wake me up and if they do, it’s only because lightning struck extremely close to my apartment which lead to shaking.
In this post, I want to give tips to help fellow d/Deaf and hard of hearing people stay weather aware. All of these tips are to help you out while you have power but also in case your power goes out.
1. Get a deaf friendly weather radio.
Nobody, hearing or deaf, is supposed to rely on sirens outside. Like I said earlier, sirens are for people who are outside, not inside. So don’t rely on those only, no matter who you are. Get yourself a weather radio that has visual settings to let you know whether you have a thunderstorm warning, tornado warning, etc. These special alarms contain a strobe light to light up your place as well as a bed shaker if you’re asleep when new alerts come. You can find these alarms at Harris Communications. (This post is not sponsored. I’m not being paid or anything to promote their products. They don’t even know I’m doing this article.)
2. Keep a collection of weather apps.
Apps on your smartphone are obviously visual and mostly deaf friendly! But do not, whatever you do, rely only on that weather stock app that’s automatically on your smartphone. It’s a terrible app for this kind of stuff. Don’t stick with The Weather Channel app either. They’re not your best source for weather. They’re not going to help you understand the risks of severe weather in your location like your local meteorologists can. Now, finding the best local meteorologist can be tough. I understand. I used to follow a station religiously and now I don’t rely on them for weather, just actual news. If you’re in the Charlotte and surrounding area, I highly recommend Brad Panovich from WCNC and their WeatherCaster app.
3. Follow your meteorologists on Facebook (and other social media).
I follow two meteorologists that I use (one of them including Brad) on Facebook. You could also follow them on other social media if they use it (I also subscribe to Brad’s YouTube channel), but I find that meteorologists tend to update Facebook the most.
4. As long as your power is on, keep your TV on the weather.
Okay, I understand you might be wanting to watch the basketball game or the new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and that’s fine. This tip is not expecting you to keep your eyes peeled to the weather like I do 24/7 during an event. But if there’s a thunderstorm warning happening, I do advise you to just check the breaking weather reports on TV since you’ll often see the track of the storm and you can be a little more alert just in case there’s some rotation which could result in a tornado. If there’s a tornado warning, get away from the TV and into the bathroom or the room on the lowest level in the middle of your place, but also take your phone and/or laptop with you. Make sure to keep your electronic devices charged. You need that backup if your power goes out!
All in all, be responsible and use common sense. Learn the difference between a watch and a warning. I know there are many people that like to think severe weather isn’t serious, but then you see a bunch of news reports the next day about extreme damage and deaths. Sometimes, you cannot avoid being a part of that, but if you can take the best precautions available, take that advantage.