Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services such as water, gas, electricity or telephones were cut off? Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.Families can -- and do -- cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Make sure your kids have input when making your disaster preparations. The more they help in the planning, the better prepared they will be to act in an emergency situation. And once you have a plan, make sure you rehearse it. Children are used to emergency drills at school. Safety in the home should be no less of a priority. Follow the steps below to create your family's disaster communication plan. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.
Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather and flooding to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.
- Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
- Pick two places to meet:
- Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
- Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Everyone must know the address and phone number.
- Ask an out-of-state friend or relative to be your "family contact”. Make sure they are not in an area likely to be evacuated for hurricanes or nor’easters. After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact's phone number.
- Make sure everyone knows the local media outlets that will be announcing emergency information.
- Plan who will and how they will take care of your pets.
- Practice your communication plan every six months. Take that time to review any changes necessary.