Do You Have a Family Emergency Communications Plan?
Disaster doesn't wait for your family to be together to strike. In fact, it may well happen while children are at school or one or both parents are away at work.
Do you have a plan in place to take care of your family until you can reunite? Will you even be able to find them after a major disaster? Will your plan still work if many of the local cell towers are down?
We all hope we'll never be directly impacted by a disaster. But hope is not a plan. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you through such a crisis:
- Download a locator application such as Life360 to everyone's smartphone. Life360 allows you to track the last known location of the mobile phones of everyone in your contact list.
- Designate a trusted friend or relative in a different state to act as a go-between. Local telephone service may well be unreliable. An out-of-state friend or relative should be safely out of the way of a local disaster, and can act as a conduit for information between family members directly impacted by such an event.
- Add "ICE" to that individual's name in everyone's phone. ICE is short for "In Case of Emergency." Put it into "favorites" lists to make it easier.
- Ensure young children know how to use text messaging, if they are old enough. Sometimes SMS text messages can make it through the cell phone networks when voice calls can't.
- Sign up for alert services with your local emergency management agency. These can give you advance warning and/or up-to-date information on tornados, storms and hurricanes.
- Have a meeting point established in advance, and an alternate, in case the first meeting point is unavailable. If you can't make it home, tell the family to come to the meeting point, and then the alternate, if no one can contact each other.
- Download and complete a family emergency plan template for children from FEMA.gov. Give it to children and post a copy on the refrigerator. You can also laminate it and put it in your kids' backpacks.
- Fill out the FEMA.gov family communication plan for parents.
- Know everyone's blood type and allergies.
- Finally, have emergency "go-bags" packed in advance. Don't forget:
- Powdered milk
- Moist towelettes
- Pet needs
- Insurance paperwork
- Contact info
- Medical insurance cards
- Bottled water
- Toilet paper.
For more information, visit http://www.ready.org.
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