Make a Plan

Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance: how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations. Take the time to develop a Family Emergency Plan and then test it by conducting mock drills.

You should also inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school, faith organizations, sports events, and commuting.  If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.  Talk to community leaders, your colleagues, neighbors, and members of faith or civic organizations about how you can work together in the event of an emergency.  You will be better prepared during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance.

Family Communication Plan

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another.  Think about how you will communicate in different situations.

Complete a contact card for each adult family member.  Have them keep these cards handy in a wallet, purse, briefcase, etc.  Additionally, complete contact cards for each child in your family.  Put the cards in their backpacks or book bags.

Check with your children’s day care or school.  Facilities designed for children should include identification planning as part of their emergency plans.

Family Communication Tips

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 than 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 knows 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 a hold of someone you know.  Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts. Teach family members how to use text messaging (also known as SMS, or Short Message Service).  Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.

Subscribe to text alert services.  Many media outlets offer this free service.