Make a PLAN!
One of the worse case scenarios in a disaster is that you are apart from your loved ones. Your children could be at school, your wife at work, etc. Also as we know on New Years Eve at midnight its virtually impossible to get hold of loved ones via mobile phones and the same will happen in the event of a disaster.
You and your loved ones need a communication plan. For example instead of trying to call each other send a text message. Designate a meeting point that is safe, ideally somewhere that doesn’t flood, safe from debris, etc. and consider how everyone will get there so make sure that its not too far to walk.
When the bombs went off in London I was working in central London by Oxford Circus. All transport was stopped, tubes, buses and taxis and the only way out of the city centre was to walk. It took me three hours to walk to Stratford and there was a long line people trying to leave. I wasn’t prepared and it opened my eyes to how disruptive disasters can be.
FEMA/Ready.gov have designed some EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION PLANS. Here are some direct links to the templates that they have designed:-
- For parents (PDF)
- For kids (PDF)
- For transit commuters (PDF)
- For your wallet (PDF)
- Steps to make a plan (PDF)
Here are a few easy steps to start your emergency communication plan:
- Understand how to receive emergency alerts and warnings. Make sure all household members are able to get alerts about an emergency from local officials. Check with your local emergency management agency to see what is available in your area, and learn more about alerts by visiting: www.ready.gov/alerts.
- Discuss family/household plans for disasters that may affect your area and plan where to go. Plan together in advance so that everyone in the household understands where to go during a different type of disaster like a hurricane, tornado, or wildfire.
- Collect information. Create a paper copy of the contact information for your family that includes:
- phone (work, cell, office)
- social media
- medical facilities, doctors, service providers
- Identify information and pick an emergency meeting place. Things to consider:
- Decide on safe, familiar places where your family can go for protection or to reunite.
- Make sure these locations are accessible for household members with disabilities or access and functional needs.
- If you have pets or service animals, think about animal-friendly locations.
Examples of meeting places:
- In your neighborhood: A mailbox at the end of the driveway, or a neighbor’s house.
- Outside of your neighborhood: library, community center, place of worship, or family friend’s home.
- Outside of your town or city: home of a relative or family friend. Make sure everyone knows the address of the meeting place and discuss ways you would get there.
- Share information. Make sure everyone carries a copy in his or her backpack, purse, or wallet. You should also post a copy in a central location in your home, such as your refrigerator or family bulletin board.
- Practice your plan. Have regular household meetings to review your emergency plans, communication plans and meeting place after a disaster, and then practice, just like you would a fire drill.