Are you ready for a disaster?

Create an emergency communications plan for your family.

Are you ready for a disaster?

A few days ago, my wife and I were discussing disaster preparedness. The conversation arose when we heard that California Governor Newsom said California would fully reopen on June 15. Why could that be a disaster, you might be wondering? I remember when the COVID was becoming a national disaster, and the water, toilet paper, and disinfecting items became scarce. It sucked. My wife was nine-month pregnant when the mandatory quarantines started. I had to leave the house around 7 am to stand in line in the cold at Costco with hundreds of other people until they opened at 10 am. It doesn't take much for people to stop being civil when it comes to their toiletries. I also remember the fires. Oh, yes, the fires. People were rushing to Cosco and other stores and stocking up on supplies.

2020 was a miserable year for everyone, and 2021 continued the trend of hopelessness and despair. Why not be better prepared for such events so they don't catch you off guard? Continue reading and learn how you can create an emergency communications plan for you and your family.

Disaster Preparedness

Disastrous events are not limited to those that occur naturally in a hurricane zone, in tornado alley, or near fault lines. They can happen anywhere, and they come in many forms. Their effects may include wireless communication system overloads, landline telephone and power outages, damages to cell towers, to name only a few. Service disruptions may last for extended periods, which is why it is essential to have a communication strategy in place for your family. You can do some simple things that will significantly improve your chances of staying in touch should a catastrophic event occur.

Review Your Contacts

To ensure that everyone starts with the most current information, it's a good idea for your family members to review their cell phone contacts. Doing so will ensure that they have the correct information for emergency contacts, extended family members, and anyone else they may need to reach out to in the event of a disaster. I recommend adding non-emergency numbers for local fire, police, and other emergency services agencies. These agencies may provide valuable information about escape routes, road closings, hazardous conditions, and more.  You may also wish to designate someone outside of your area for your family members to contact to report on their welfare and location and to get updates if they get separated or cannot communicate directly with one another.

Cell Phone Maintenance and Use

Because cell phones will be your most valuable communication tool during catastrophic events, it is a good idea to have portable charging banks for each device just in case you lose access to other charging methods.  Keep the power banks fully charged at all times, so they are ready if you need them.

In a disaster scenario, try and limit the number and duration of cell phone calls you make and ask your family members to do the same. Not only will this help lessen the load on communications infrastructure that may already be overburdened or damaged, but it will also conserve your battery.

Voice calls and emails sent via your cell phone require transferring much more data than text messages. If phone calls and emails are not getting through, try texting. Additionally, phone calls made from a moving vehicle during a disaster may drop due to intermittent service coverage. Try pulling over and stopping where you have a strong signal. That may resolve the issue and is much safer if you're the driver and the situation is chaotic.

Additional Recommendations and Conclusion

These simple tips may yield significant benefits should disaster strike, but effective communications strategies are only part of an excellent overall disaster preparedness plan. Storing emergency food and water supplies, identifying potential evacuation routes in advance, safeguarding essential documents, and designating meet-up sites are a few other things to consider for inclusion as part of your family's plan. What you include may depend on where you live and what types of disaster scenarios you are most likely to encounter. There are many resources available online and from local government emergency management offices to help you and your family prepare.

As always, we wrote this article in a way it can relate to most people. I hope you liked this disaster preparedness article, and most importantly, I hope it helps you prepare for any disaster. Have a great day!