September is National Preparedness Month. For more information, visit ready.gov .
In our ultra-in-touch world of texts, Facebook messages and emails (among other things), it seems unfathomable that there might come a time when we cannot contact our loved ones. After Hurricane Katrina when friends and families were split up and evacuated to separate locations, reuniting was a major issue. Recent natural disasters including an earthquake and a hurricane severely limited my communications with loved ones in Virginia. Cell phone systems were overwhelmed, with no power cell phones and laptops went uncharged and phone dependent on electricity didn’t work. Luckily I was able to communicate with my loved ones and make sure they were okay but what if I couldn’t contact them.
Emergency preparedness experts suggest having a family communication plan. Ready.gov suggests the following steps to making your own family communication plan. For more detailed information and a downloadable family emergency plan, visit the Ready.gov site.
1. Pick an out of town relative to be a point of contact in case your immediate family gets separated.
2. Be sure every member of your family has this relative’s phone number and other vital information and has a way to contact them (cell phone, prepaid calling card, text messaging).
3. Be sure every family member knows how to text. Texting uses less cell phone service resources than calling which might be vital if cell service is limited.
4. Subscribe to alert services. My town recently implemented an emergency weather system that can call or email me when bad weather is on the way. Check out what your community has to offer. Some online weather site will email you when certain weather watches or warnings are implemented in your areas.
I would add a 5th point to this plan. If you still have a land-line in your home, make sure you have a corded phone that can operate without electricity. This way if your power is out and your cell phone isn’t working, you might have another way to contact the outside world.
You might be asking what this has to do with organizing. Well, you have to get your papers, yourself and your family organized to more easily make it through an emergency! As Jone Scott, Oklahoma Service Unit Representative, Salvation Army said in Judith Kolberg’s Organizing for Disaster, “It is not just about having a disaster kit. All the duct tape and plastic sheeting in the world may not protect you. You have to get organized!.”
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