When a disaster caused by hurricanes, flooding or other natural event takes place, communications with family members, schools, medical professionals and other first responders is key. Florida families should have an emergency contact/communication plan in place and available to everyone in the home (including children) so they know how to reach you during or after an emergency. This will help keep every safe, calm, and aware of what is happening.
You can create a simple emergency contact sheet using any type of spreadsheet software – or you can use a fill-in form like this one from Ready.gov. Either way, make sure your plan includes important phone numbers, emails and physical addresses for family members, schools, work, and other places your family is likely to be, along with medical facilities and local shelters. It is a good idea to call or text each number to be sure you have the most current information.
E-mail this completed form to everyone in your family and share with out-of-state friends or family so they know how to reach you before, during or after a hurricane or other emergency. Print off several copies to keep on your fridge and in your car – and create business-card size copies to go in your wallet, purse, and kids’ backpacks. Also, input contacts into your smartphone for fast access (be sure to label them as “emergency” contacts).
Put one copy of the contact sheet in your emergency kit along with other important documents (passports, medical records, homeowners’ insurance policies). This way, if you have to evacuate your home, you will not have to waste time looking for these valuable documents.
When your children are old enough, challenge them to memorize your cell phone number and home address and recite to you whenever asked (this can be a fun dinner game). Show them where the emergency kit and contact lists are kept in the home in case they ever need to access them. Go through every name on the emergency list so they know who to call (and when) if necessary.
If a disaster strikes while you are at work or your children are at school, know the emergency response plans for each location. Inform your children (and their schools) who will pick them up in the event of an emergency. Have your phone or computer set up for alerts while at work so you don’t miss incoming bad weather alerts at the office.
Also be sure your children and everyone in your household are well aware of evacuation plans and meeting places. There is comfort knowing you are each looking out for one another and that you are prepared and know what to do to find each other and stay safe during a hurricane or emergency.