Disasters can happen at any time, including when the children are at school or when the parents are at work. What should you do if something happens when the family is not together? Do you have a plan in place to take care of your family until you can reunite? Will your plan still work if many of the local cell phone towers are down?
We all hope never to be directly impacted by a disaster, but hope is not a plan. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you prepare for such a crisis:
- Download a locator app such as Life360 to everyone’s smartphone. Life 360 allows you to track the last known locations of the mobile phones of everyone in your contact list who also has the app.
- Designate a trusted friend or relative in a different state to act as a go-between. Your local telephone service may 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 affected.
- Add “ICE” to that individual’s name in everyone’s phone. ICE is short for “In Case of Emergency.” Put it into the “favorites” list to make it even easier to find.
- 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 tornadoes, storms, and hurricanes.
- Have a meeting point established in advance, and designate an alternate in case the first point is unavailable. If you can’t make it home, tell the family to go to the meeting point. And if you can’t contact each other, go to the alternate location.
- Download and complete a family emergency plan template for children from FEMA.gov. Give it to your 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, it’s a good idea to 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
- First aid kit
- Change of clothing