Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance. Think about how you would communicate in different situations:
How will you contact one another?
What if cell phones do not work?
Do you have an out-of-town relative you can all contact to let them know you are okay?
How will you get back together?
How will you get to a safe place if you need to leave your home?
What if you cannot get to your children’s school?
Do you have an elderly relative that may need assistance?
Sample Family Plan
Complete a contact card for each adult family member. Have your family members keep these cards handy in a wallet, purse or briefcase. Additionally, complete contact cards for each child in your family and put the card in their backpack or book bag.
Check with your children’s day care or school and inquire about their emergency plans. Would they keep your child at the school if there were a major emergency?
Identify a contact such as a friend or relative who lives out-of-state for household members to notify they are safe. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call then to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
Be sure every member of your family know the phone number and has a cell phone or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact.
If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to get in touch with someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you have listed them as emergency contacts.
Teach family members how to use text messaging (or have your teenager teach you), also known as SMS or Short Message Service. Text message can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
Subscribe to alert services. Many communities now have systems that will send instant text alerts or emails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. You can sign up with VECC to register your cell phone, voice over IP, cable network or email address. Register online Select the “VOIP Registration” tab at the top of the page.