It’s a bright sunny day. The lake water is sparkling. A perfect day to be heading out for a canoe or kayak ride. The only issue is that you would like to wear your hearing device, either your hearing aids or cochlear implant, during your time on the water.
But is it the right thing to do?
Whether we should be wearing our devices is something that some of us think about, or it is something that never crossed our minds. We know not to wear them while we take a shower or in a swimming pool. But on a boat on the water?
Thinking about our safety first, it’s hard to prioritize. It’s wise to wear our hearing devices if someone needs to alert us. But it’s also wise to protect our expensive devices first. We may not have an extra seven grand to buy another one. Why let one moment in the water cause us many months and years of frustration?
So what do we choose: safety or cost?
This article is going to help you decide what’s the best decision for you.
Adhere to water safety rules
Besides life jackets, other safety rules are legally required for kayaking, canoeing, sailboarding and kiteboarding. Everyone would need to carry a sound signalling device. It is a law in some countries, and you must check where you’re heading if the law applies.
There are no flashing signalling or vibrating device to alert people with hearing to signalling alarms in the water. Lisnen may be able to make this a reality with more opportunities : )
Therefore, to benefit from this safety law, you need to wear your hearing aids.
Knowing that it’s a law, one of the worst-case scenarios could result. And that’s if there was an accident and you got sued. If it comes up in the court that you weren’t wearing your hearing aids, it could hurt your case.
Dept of the water
Let’s say that the lake you’re going out to for a ride is very shallow. Say 4 feet or below. You’re well over 5 feet tall. The chances of your head ever reaching the water is very slim.
It does depend on how you fall, also. It depends on how much control and balance you can maintain if you enter the water after your boat capsizes.
You want to be in a position where your feet can land first. And your life jacket has enough buoyancy to keep you from not dipping too much into the water.
If you can manage shallow water with past experiences, you might be able to make it through without damaging your devices.
Sign language your way through
For those who want to remove their hearing devices and are not travelling the waters alone. You and your water buddy may be able to find a way to make it work.
Establish some essential sign-language communication between your hearing buddy and yourself. Make sure you are travelling in the same boat or, if not possible, within eyesight to be as close as possible to them.
Sitting in the back of the canoe or kayak will allow you to see what’s in front of you. If you are in a single kayak, ensure you’re in the middle of the pack if possible. Those in front of you will be your guide, while others behind you will be aware enough of what’s going on behind you. They can develop a mutual understanding of a few primary sign languages for danger, stop and go, or where to direct your attention.
The presence of calm winds
Water with calm winds is a great reassurance that the chances of falling in the water are slim. Other factors like balancing skills and no one rocking the boat don’t count.
Riding on waves and choppy waters is enough to question whether you should wear your hearing devices. If the water feels like you’re whitewater rafting, you might expect that your chances of falling are high.
Use a spare if you can
Perhaps you have spare hearing aids or an implant that still works enough. This could be something you could use while saving your newer hearing device from any damage.
You could also look for an over-the-counter hearing aid that you can use only for recreational activities. If you have an extra thousand to buy, these devices can be a spare that you have on the side.
It will give you some hearing boost to pick up loud frequency and noises but not enough to have conversations. It might not matter because you wouldn’t be able to have a conversation without the hearing aids.
Choose another water activity
Perhaps you’ve accessed the risks, and it’s too high to take your hearing devices out in the water. It’s okay. After exploring all possible risks, this is one of life’s situations; there is no right or wrong answer. It’s the outcome that you can’t control that can make all the difference. Either way, you have to be comfortable with living with the consequences.
With all that hassle to decide, why not take another water sport? How about scuba diving? It is the one activity where most people can start with an equal playing field to those with hearing loss. No one can talk or listen. The perfect activity: to explore nature under the sea or ocean.
Or maybe you’ll skip everything altogether.
How we decide to go on the water with or without our hearing device is an individual decision based on our situation. But having thought through and knowing your risk is better than making last-minute decisions that we regret.
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