Friday, September 14, 2018

National Preparedness Month Day 14--Your Communications Plan

Everyone needs a disaster communications plan.  Include the following things in your plan:

  • All family members should have each other's cell numbers both on their cell phones as well as having these numbers written down and kept in a wallet in case your cell phone goes dead.
  • All family members should likewise have several other ways to reach each other including email addresses, social media user names, and work/school numbers.  Again this info should be on each other's cell phones as well as written down and kept in a wallet.
  • Everyone should know that even if cell phone calls won't go through, often text messages will.
  • Even if the entire family is in the same community, the family should agree on a contact who lives out of the area that can be the person everyone calls to check in with if they can't reach each other.  Sometimes local phone/cell networks will be down in the local area but calls to out of the area will go through.
  • A fun hobby for the family which can turn into a critical method of communications during a disaster is HAM radio.  Consider becoming certified HAM operators as a family and using this old fashioned (but still quite useful) technology as a hobby.
  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, even Reddit) can be used to share information and messages with the family as well as your extended network of friends and family to keep them updated on your situation.
  • If the family is separated by disaster, they should also check in with Safe & Well as well as Facebook's Crisis Response.
  • Put your entire contact list (this can be typed as a document or downloaded as a .cvs file) on your backup thumb drive and give each family member a copy of this.  I have separate lists, one for business contacts and one for family/friends/other relatives, and ensure that each family member has a recently updated family contact list in case they need to get in contact with anyone in the extended family.
  • Always keep some coins in your EDC.  Sometimes all phone networks may be down but pay phones--if you can find them--may still be in service.
  • For receiving emergency communications from local and national sources, consider carrying a small AM/FM radio in your EDC bag.  Although most cell phones have the capability of receiving AM/FM radio via the phone and not through an app, this capability is often turned off by the cell company.
  • You can ask for help from local first responder agencies in several ways.  You can call 911, in some areas you can text 911 for help, you can also reach out to these agencies through their Facebook/Twitter pages (this should be a last resort as these may not be monitored 24/7 by these agencies).
  • Sign up for emergency alerts to your cell phone.  Some you may already receive (Amber Alerts, emergency weather alerts) and some you need to sign up for (local news stations, NOAA, local emergency management department, etc).
  • Find out if your cell phone can be used like a walkie talkie even if cell phone service is down.
  • If all communications are down, arrange a few meeting places with your family to meet up at.  The first should be in your neighborhood, if that is not accessible, you should have a secondary meet up location in your town, a third option in another state, and a TEOTWAWKI location in another country.

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