Have a Disaster Communication Plan
If you live in an area that is prone to tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes or wildfires, disaster preparedness is very important. You may have already seen our post about keeping a survival kit on hand, including water, non-perishable food, flashlights, and a first aid kit. In addition, you will want to have a communication plan so you can get in touch with friends and family. Here are some suggestions for setting up your communication plan.
Designate a Point of Contact
Select a family member or friend that lives out of the area. This person will be the main contact. Since they live out of the area, it is unlikely their communication mediums (phone, internet, etc.) will be impacted by the disaster you are experiencing. Make sure everyone in your family has the phone number and email address of the main contact.
Paper Contact List
Contact information should be entered into all smartphones and also written on paper. Smartphone batteries may not have a full charge at the beginning of the disaster, so you will not be able to access your contacts. Having a paper contact list stored in your purse or wallet will allow you to have the information no matter the status of your smartphone or if you do or do not have a power adapter. Make sure all family members have a paper copy of the list in addition to having the information on their smartphones. In addition to the designated point of contact, also consider including the following on your contact list:
- Utility company
- Doctor for each family member
- All other members of your immediate family
- Insurance provider information
- School contact information
List ICE in Your Smartphone
In addition to listing the point of contact under their name in your smartphone, have all family members list them under ICE. ICE stands for “in case of emergency.” By listing the point of contact with ICE, you won’t have to worry that everyone in your family remembers who you designated as the family point of contact. If you are unable to use your phone due to injury, an emergency responder will check your smartphone for the ICE contact.
Consider Texting Instead of Calling
Texts are more likely to get through during a disaster when networks get overloaded. Make sure everyone in your family can send and receive text messages and instruct them to text instead of calling during an emergency.
Consider Having a Landline
In today’s day and age of mobile phones, many homes no longer have a landline. During an emergency, you may want to consider having one phone that can be connected by a landline because you are likely to lose power but you may still have telephone service. A cordless phone will not work when electricity is out.
If you have a broadband phone service, your telephone service comes through your internet service provider. This type of service means when you lose power you will lose your phone, and a landline will not work for you. You can rely on your smartphone instead but may want to consider having a car charger for your smartphone. The inexpensive utility will allow you to keep your smartphone charged when the electricity is out.
If a disaster occurs when separated from your family, it will be very important to you to find out if everyone is OK. Having a disaster communication plan in advance can help limit the confusion and worry during the disaster. Taking a few simple steps now, such as designating an out of town contact and ensuring each family member has a paper contact list, will help everyone reconnect after a disaster.
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