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Friday, July 31, 2009

How will you communicate with your family?

A family communications planning night can be a lot of fun for kids and adults, and it should be something you schedule three or four times a year to make sure everyone knows what to do.

Your first plan should be to have a designated place to meet if you have to evacuate your home because of fire, earthquake, or other emergency. This could be a certain location outside your home, or perhaps a neighbors house. Whatever you and your family decide make sure that it is a safe location.

Next, you should have a plan for communication if some or all of your family are not at home when disaster strikes. For example, the first plan may be to call the home phone and let whoever is at home know your whereabouts and condition. If there is no one to answer it may be possible for each person to leave a message on voice mail. All family members should be instructed to call and listen to voice mail messages without deleting any. If that is not possible you could consider having each person make a call to a relative or friend who lives far from you, presumably outside your area and away from whatever disaster has occurred. Think of all the possibilities and then establish an emergency communications plan that everyone knows.

Memorize the plan, but also put the emergency communications plan and numbers on a card for everyone to keep in their wallet. You may also want to have a redundant factor built into your plan. In other words, have two emergency phone numbers to call instead of one.

In addition, you may want to establish a family code word for emergencies only. This word would be used if you have to have someone pick up a child from school because you cannot go. If you tell that person to give the code word to your child it will help the child know that the person is someone they can trust. There are many other possibilities in which an emergency code word may prove to be helpful when you cannot communicate directly with each other and need to use another person to relay messages.

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