Having a communications plan is one of the most important pieces of your emergency preparedness plan. If communications are down in your area, each person in your plan should know:
- Who the out-of-area contact is for the family; their phone number should be written down and memorized.
- What information to share with your contact:
- Where you are (address or name of location).
- How you are (uninjured, hit my head, broke my leg, I'm panicking).
- Where you are going or if you are staying in place (if leaving the current location, include the route you will take if it applies).
- The meeting location if home is not an option (due to distance, river crossing, etc.).
- To send a text rather than calling if you have a cell phone; a text will often work when a voice call won't.
Your out-of-area contact should know to text (if possible) the information they receive to the other members in your communications plan. Relay updated information at designated times (5 minutes before/after the hour).
TIP: Cordless phones do not work when the power is out. If you have a land line telephone, ensure that it does not require power to operate. Power cell phones off between scheduled communication times.
Family Contact Cards are an important tool to help your family members stay in touch with each other during an emergency. Planning ahead can reduce the time it takes to contact each of your family members during an emergency. While it is important to know where everyone is and whether or not they are safe, it's also important that everyone understands what their role and responsibility is during a disaster.
Sometimes during an emergency, local phone circuits are busy but calls can still be made to other area codes. It may be easier for you to reach someone out of the area, even in another state, than to reach someone in the same city. Designate a friend or family member who lives out of the area to collect and pass information between your immediate family members or anyone else in your communications plan.
Designate a safe place for your family to meet in case you are unable to contact each other. If all communications are down, plan for each family member to go to the designated place to wait for others. If you cross a waterway for work of leisure activities, choose a location on both sides of the waterway.
The Family Contact Card is located above. Make copies and fill out cards for each member of your family to carry with them at all times. Make sure caregivers for younger children have your Family Contact Card information as well. If a disaster occurs during work or school hours, it's critical that everyone, including children or their caregivers, knows who to contact and where to meet. Be sure to keep cards updated as
- If you are traveling, tell someone when you're going, when you're leaving, the route you are taking and the expected arrival time.
- If applicable, have a meeting place on both sides of the river, which may not be crossable after a large earthquake.
- If your cell phone is lost or damaged, you willneed to have a backup for remembering phone numbers. Having the information written down somewhere is a good idea.