Monday, September 05, 2011

NPM11: Creating A Family Communications Plan



Note: This is day 5 of National Preparedness Month.  Follow this year’s campaign on Twitter by searching for the #NPM11 hash tag.


This month, as part of NPM11, I’ll be rerunning some edited and updated older preparedness essays, along with some new ones.



# 5813



Those of us who were living in Florida during the `bad old days’ of the cold war remember well the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.


Although it is hard to imagine it today, much of Florida was on a war footing with fears of a nuclear attack that might come at any time, thousands of military streaming into the state, and schools running daily `duck & cover’ and emergency evacuation exercises.


Kids were sent home with civil defense pamphlets on the basics of radiation poisoning and how to build an in-home fallout shelter.




As an 8-year-old with a scientific bent, these were exciting times.


What I didn’t full appreciate at the time was my parents were faced with an agonizing dilemma. My twin-brother and I attended a nearby elementary school, while my 17-year old sister attended high school some distance away.


If the alert went up, they realized they might only have time to get to one school to pick up their kids.


Logic dictated that the pick up my brother and I, based on our ages, and the fact that there were two of us. My sister was given instructions to go to the home of one of her high school friends, and our folks would  either contact her or pick her up there.


Nearly 50 years ago, in the face of a potential crisis, my family cobbled together their own emergency communications plan including an alternate rendezvous point.


While a nuclear attack is (thankfully) far less likely today, the same principles hold true when it comes to having a communications plan, and a meet-up point.


And since a tornado, earthquake, house fire, or some other disaster can strike without warning . . .  these are the sorts of plans every family needs to make now.


Before they are needed.


Luckily FEMA and READY.GOV have made things a bit easier today.  They’ve developed a Family Emergency Communications Kit, which can be downloaded free from the net. 


With just a few minutes effort, you can have your own emergency communications plan and emergency meeting place set up.


Family Communications
Image of 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 family member. Have family members keep these cards handy in a wallet, purse, backpack, etc. You may want to send one to school with each child to keep on file. Pick a friend or relative who lives out-of-state for household members to notify they are safe.


Family Communications Plan which should be completed and posted so the contact information is readily accessible to all family members. A copy should also be included in your family disaster supplies kit.


Appendix C of the Are You Ready? Guide (contains blank contact cards and a family communications plan form)


You’ll find the version of the kit available HERE.