September is National Preparedness Month, and this year the theme for Week 1 is: How to Reconnect With Family after a Disaster, where FEMA and Ready.gov urge that all families create an emergency communications plan.
Disasters can strike with little or no warning, and some family members may be at school, work, or simply away from home. In the event of a sudden evacuation or displacement, you’ll want to have a meeting place already decided upon, and for everyone to have a list of emergency contact information.
To drive home the message, this year FEMA has produced a PSA called `Waiting’, which shows anxious parents in a community shelter trying – and failing – to reconnect with their child during a disaster.
Separation from family was a constant worry during the `bad old days’ of the cold war – when just about everyone feared that nuclear attack was not only inevitable, but imminent.
Those of us born in the 1950s grew up with `duck & cover drills’, graphic civil defense film strips, and even cute cartoon characters like `Bert the Turtle’ giving us tips on how best to survive a surprise atomic attack. Admittedly some of that advice was fairly suspect in the face of an atomic attack, but it was better than nothing.
Previously, I’ve described how my family created their own `emergency rendezvous plan’ during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, so my brother, sister and I would know where to go if we were separated.
While the threat of global thermonuclear war is greatly diminished today, the world remains a dangerous place.
Between natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes – and the potential for man-made disasters like train derailments, chemical plant explosions, and ever terrorist attacks – one could argue that our threat level is higher today than it has been since the mid-1980s.
To help get your family prepared to deal with disruptions and disasters large and small, FEMA and Ready.gov have created a pair of Family Communications toolkits. Each comes in the form of a fill-in-the blanks PDF file, which you can download, fill out, and print.
Family communication plan template designed for parents to organize emergency contact phone numbers and identify an emergency meeting place.
Family communication plan template designed for kids to organize emergency contact phone numbers and identify an emergency meeting place.
Filling out these cards may seem like a small step, but that's what most preparedness involves.
Getting prepared doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or time consuming. By taking small, organized steps, in no time you’ll find that you and your family far better prepared to face any emergency. Over the next month I’ll have a series of easily digestible preparedness blogs to help get you started, so look for the NPM14 heading.
For more on how to prepare, visit these websites:
AMERICAN RED CROSS http://www.redcross.org/