How to Receive Weather Alerts for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

There are different weather alerts for deaf and hard of hearing people. Traditional weather alert systems are a disadvantage. 

When the weather changes so suddenly without enough time to predict in advance, weather alerts are issued to warn the public of impending danger. People with hearing loss may not get the information the same way as others and may be left to fend for themselves against Mother Nature.

With all the weather predictions made by sophisticated technologies, there are times when no prediction can be made days in advance. Unlike hurricanes, where you can watch and wait for their arrival, tornados, earthquakes, flash flooding, freezing rain, and avalanches appear out of nowhere.

The devastation we see on TV and social media after natural disasters is often heartbreaking. Families’ pain from losing their homes, all their possessions that they worked hard to acquire, and sometimes losing their loved ones is too tough to imagine what they are experiencing.

Many people live in countries where natural disasters are far too common. The choice to live in these high-risk areas outweighs the one-off or sometimes sporadic events that nature gives us.

People who are hard of hearing or completely deaf would need to consider what tools they can use to help prepare for a natural disaster. This article explains the weather alerts for deaf and hard of hearing people.

How warnings are sent

In most countries, like the US, the National Weather Service’s local offices track all the weather patterns across the 50 states and neighboring countries. They broadcast their alerts through a radio station called NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR), which sends coded messages that are transmitted to various devices to send out warnings. The devices can be TV channels, phones, apps, or radios. In Canada, Environmental Canada runs similar warning systems.

While many of the messages are voice and audio messages, people with hearing loss can get a custom solution with a visual or haptic-friendly version of the warning.  

The type of solution you choose must factor in your daily habits and what you tend to do most of the time. 

Receive messages based on your preference

Some people are always around their smartphones, but others might be watching TV, cooking, reading, showering, or doing other indoor activities that might make them less able to grab their attention with a smartphone. You’ll need to assess which ones are best for you.

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Because power outages are highly possible during these situations and loss of mobile connectivity, you want to think or look into solutions that you can use that do not depend on power or connectivity.


An array of apps can be used to get weather forecasts or warning messages. 

Also, most governments worldwide send out text alerts to warn the public. In some Android or iPhone,  you can turn on weather alert notifications. 

The local government has an application that allows them to broadcast to millions of smartphone numbers simultaneously. However, they’re not always sufficient. Until the technology for sending mass messages to all neighboring smartphones improves, some people will not receive the notifications. For some reason, some messages get lost or take longer to reach some numbers. There is no guarantee that it will happen, but that’s something that you need to keep in mind.

However, these solutions work well if you are by your phone regularly.

Summary of Disadvantages:

  • You would miss warnings if you were not always on your phone.
  • The government-issued message may not arrive.
  • Night-time support to wake you of a phone message may not be sufficient.

Civic Sirens 

If you are outdoors or driving to do errands, civic sirens are often used to warn the public who are not near their phones or radio. These sirens will obviously not work for people who are deaf and hard of hearing

The Lisnen app is currently working to detect these sounds so people can be more aware of events happening outside their homes. You’ll also receive notifications from your phone.

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Summary of Disadvantages:

  • It’s just not accessible at all if you have a hearing loss

Weather Radio

One device can issue weather alerts using radio frequency and display the message in text conveyed in the radio frequency that can be custom for the deaf and hard of hearing. Midland Weather Alert Radio provides the tool for you to receive the message.

To make this accessible for people who need warnings at night, a bed shaker can be purchased from several other brands (Silent Call or Sonic Alert).

Summary of Disadvantages:

  • During the day, if you are not by your device, you may miss
  • You’ll need the haptic feedback attachment to add on and purchase separately
  • This isn’t something you can carry with you around all the time

Too many bed shakers from different brands

If you are in a situation where you have too many separate alert notifications from different brands for different purposes. Your pillow now has multiple bedshakers that can go off at any time. Consider consolidating with only one like Silent Call or Sonic Alert system. It’s an added cost, but it might be something you prefer.

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