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Samantha Daly

Communication Preparedness

Communication Preparedness

It is vitally important to have a communication plan in place with your family before disaster strikes. In a culture dominated by cell phone usage, a power outage and loss of cell service can range from inconvenient to detrimental.

A natural disaster can strike anywhere, anytime. But, if you live in an area prone to tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, or wildfires, it is especially essential to have a communication plan in place.

You should have the following information on hand at all times:

Contact Information

Everyone should keep a list of the following essential phone numbers in case of emergency:

  • Family. Make sure everyone in the family has key phone numbers memorized. You may find yourself without your cell phone, and need to be able to recall numbers at a moment’s notice. Young children should be given cards with contact information on them if they are unable to remember parents’ phone numbers.
  • School. Keep current school contact information, including the contact information for children’s teachers.
  • Work. Include parents’ work information: business names, emails, phone numbers, and any necessary extensions.
  • Medical. Make sure you have emergency contact information in case someone is hurt. Include all emergency personnel numbers as well as pediatrician and family physician contacts.

Create and distribute laminated contact cards to all family members. Cards should include a meeting place in case of emergency and contact information for a friend outside the region with whom family members can check in.

Disaster Response Information

Compile a list of local agencies that report on disasters, school closings, and evacuation plans in your area. In many cases, these will be local news stations. Most agencies will have emergency websites and hotlines, both of which are valuable resources for information in a disaster. Be sure to have a radio and extra batteries on hand to listen to emergency radio broadcasting.

Methods of Communication

To increase your chance of survival in an emergency, it’s vital to know the communication methods available.

  • Television/Radio. The Emergency Alert System sends messages to the entire U.S. or state and local communities in real time. These alerts can be received by broadcast or cable television, radio, or mobile phone networks.
  • Amateur Radio. Amateur radio is recognized by FEMA and the National Weather Service. In the event of a disaster, radio officers can relay life-saving information. You can listen to amateur radio transmissions on ham or shortwave radios.
  • Telephone. During a disaster, more people are trying to use their phones than normal, creating network congestion. Limit yourself to only emergency calls and keep all calls brief to ensure that as many people as possible can get in touch with loved ones.
  • Internet. Social media can be used in an emergency to get in contact with friends and family, determine the scope of the disaster, and find shelters and emergency resources nearby.

In any disaster, having a communication plan in place can save your family hours or even days of worry. Following these steps to compile contact and disaster service information and understand the different methods of communication available can save you from a catastrophe.

What communication strategies have helped you and your family reconnect after a disaster? Share your stories on Facebook.

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