The second component of effective family preparedness is creating a family disaster plan. You will need to know how to contact and rejoin family members who may be away at work, school or other activities when an event occurs. You will need to have points of contact locally and elsewhere, and you will need to know what to do before the panic sets in.
Collecting Emergency Information. A simple first step in creating your family plan is to collect information that would be helpful in an emergency. For example, you should have the phone numbers of all the schools, workplaces and other locations family members frequent. You should know how to contact local electrical, water, natural gas and telecommunications utilities.
Develop a Communications Plan. You never know where family members will be when disaster strikes. You should have a list of contact addresses and phone numbers you collect where family members might be. You should choose an out-of-state contact person (maybe a grandparent or an aunt or uncle) who would coordinate calls from family members. You should also designate a meeting place near your home where you could meet in case you are separated. AT&T Communications has a great communications plan template you can download, fill out and reproduce for family members.
Practice Your Plan. The best way to remember what to do in an emergency is to practice your plan. Take a Saturday morning or an evening to run through your plan. Make sure that your family knows how to access the emergency kits, that batteries work in flashlights and radios and that the food you packed is still good. A little practice will go a long way in case of an emergency.
Learn the Risks. Generally, your local community emergency preparedness office will have specific information for your area on disaster risks. Some areas, such as areas around a military installation, may be a greater risk than others. If you live downstream from a dam, for example, your plan should include what to do in case of a flood. Be smart and be aware of the risks in your own locality.
In summary, remember that preparation precedes power. If you are prepared, you can respond calmly to any emergency. You will make smarter decisions, you will take better care of your family, and you will manage an emergency rather than just react to it. Take the time now to prepare!