The Do 1 Thing site won the Awareness to Action category of FEMA’s 2014 Individual and Community Preparedness Awards. It’s a 12-month program of small steps that you can take to increase your personal and household preparedness. Throughout 2015, DEM will feature Do 1 Thing items during our weekly blog post series of One Thing Wednesdays. Check back here every week for a new preparedness activity or tip!
July’s focus is communication. In a disaster, how will your family get in touch with each other? How will you report damage, emergencies, or dangerous situations to the authorities?
The more advance planning you do for disasters, the fewer decisions you have to make under the pressure of a real emergency. Part of any household disaster plan is a robust household communication plan. This establishes how your family members will contact each other if a disaster knocks out your usual communication methods.
Where does each family member spend the most time? Home, work, school, day care? Include phone numbers and addresses for each of those places, as well as personal cell phone numbers. If your family relies on other people for additional help, such as caregivers or medical specialists, include their contact information too.
Saving all this information in your smartphone’s contact list is a good idea, but don’t rely solely on that device. That’s what we call a single point of failure: one thing that, if broken, can disrupt your entire plan. Have a backup record in the form of a written contact list. FEMA’s ready.gov website has printable wallet-sized emergency plan templates for adults and kids. Keep another copy of the complete list next to your home land-line phone.
Local phone calls use different circuits than long-distance ones. In a major event, you may be able to make a long-distance call even when local circuits are overloaded. Designate someone outside your local calling area to be your family’s outside contact and include their contact information in your family communication plan. If something happens while you’re separated, your outside contact can be a bridge to help, or can relay messages between family members who can’t reach each other directly.