Communication is Key When a Disaster Strikes

You may not be with your family and loved ones when disaster strikes. A pre-defined communications plan will allow you to more quickly and reliably be in touch with your family when traditional means of communicating (phones, email, text messages) may not be available. Performing the following tasks now – before disaster strikes – will help you find your loved ones when you need them most.

TASK 1: Emergency Contact Cards

Prepare emergency contact cards for each member of your family to carry with them at all times. Keeping this information in your phone is great, but what if your phone is lost or broken? What if someone else is helping your family member (e.g. paramedics, police officer, teacher, etc.)? A paper copy kept with each member of the family is an invaluable tool.

Your emergency contact cards should include the contact information for the locations that each member of your family frequents (home, work, school, etc.), your emergency meeting location (see Task #2 below), additional emergency contacts such as out-of-state relatives and close friends. Keep this card with you at all times.

Download and Print: 
American Red Cross Emergency Contact Card

Create and Carry Emergency Contact Cards:

  1. Print one card for each member of your household.
  2. Write the contact information for each household member, such as: work, school, and frequently visited places.
  3. Write the meeting places outside your home and outside your neighborhood.
  4. Add any specific comments or information.
  5. Fold the card so it fits in your pocket, wallet or purse.
  6. Carry the card with you so it is available in the event of a disaster or other emergency.

TASK 2: Emergency Meeting Location

In real-life disasters, family members have been known to cross paths looking for each other. Parents go to their kids’ school, kids go home, spouses seek each other at their places of work. Designating a primary and secondary meeting spot will help you find your family more quickly if you can’t be in touch by phone. Your home is a good primary meeting spot, but a secondary spot should be designated in case your home or neighborhood is not accessible. Keep in mind that young children may not be permitted to leave school, so designating your kids’ school as the primary meeting location may be best for young families.

“A pre-defined communications plan will allow you to more quickly and reliably be in touch with your family when traditional means of communicating may not be available.”

TASK 3: Emergency Resource and Information Directory

A database of essential emergency resources and information should be created and maintained. Information in your directory should include at least the following:

  • Name, date of birth, social security number, and important medical information for each member of your family.
  • Contact information for your family physicians, pharmacy, veterinarian, insurance agents, etc.
  • Contact information for each child’s school, and each adult’s employer.
  • Phone numbers for: gas company, water company, poison control, electric company, telephone service.

Locations of your home’s fire extinguishers, water heater, gas shut-off valve, main water valve. This directory should be kept in an obvious and easily- accessible location in your home and office, and all family members should be familiar with its contents.

TASK 4: Teach and Remember Your Plan

Your communications plan will be useless if it’s outdated or nobody knows it. Share your plan with each member of your family, review it monthly, quiz your kids on it. Know it.

Personal Emergency Preparedness