FOX23 Severe Weather Team looks at language barriers in storm coverage

TULSA, Okla. — September is National Preparedness Month, which is a good reminder that there are many groups of people in our area that are more vulnerable to disasters due to language barriers and other disabilities.

Most of us have loved ones who either don’t speak English, have mobility issues or have another disability where standard warnings and emergency preparedness may not register as easily. We can all play a role in making sure they are given the tools to be prepared and stay safe when extreme weather strikes.

TSHA is an organization in Tulsa that is dedicated to providing services for those who are deaf or have impaired hearing. While there have been advancements in reaching out to this population during disasters, such as mandatory closed captioning on TV during severe weather, it truly takes a village to ensure that anyone who is deaf has equal access to life-saving information.

You can visit their website for more resources and how to support this organization.

Sayings like “When thunder roars, go indoors,” is not helpful for someone who cannot hear that thunder. Instead, alternative messaging like “When you see a flash, dash indoors” is a more effective way to communicate this crucial action. For more helpful tools on reaching the deaf community during severe weather, visit here.

The Tulsa area is also home to thousands of recent immigrants, representing dozens of different languages. Knowing how to properly respond to a Tornado or Oklahoma flood is not inherent knowledge and another local non-profit, the Disaster Resilience Network, is working to spread emergency preparedness information in a number of languages.  For preparedness resources in different languages, you can visit their website

Mike Grogan serves as the Co-Chair of the Disaster Resilience Cross-Cultural Council.