When emergencies happen, you won’t always be with your loved ones, and when you find yourselves apart, you will need a good communication strategy. You will also want to make sure that you can easily reach necessary services, from police and fire to your insurance company. There are 4 steps that will help you be ready for communication in nearly any immediate emergency scenario.
- ICE. Immediately, right this very minute, put an emergency contact in your cell phone labeled “ICE” (in case of emergency). You’ll need to do this for each member of your family. If you are separated and someone needs help, having an “ICE” contact will tell first responders who to get in contact with to help you.
2. Group Message. In your cell phone (and everyone’s phone in your family), create a group text message between yourself and the rest of your family. This will be your emergency communication messenger. At any given time, someone in your group can message with necessary information. Everyone will receive the same information and can immediately be on the same page.
3. Phone number cheat sheet. Every member of your family should have a filled-out copy of the Emergency Communication cheat sheet. This sheet will include things like phone numbers for emergency services, your insurance companies, your physicians, your children’s school, and the phone numbers of everyone in your group. This would also include emergency contacts outside of your family unit. To make this easier for you, I have put together a free printable cheat sheet! Download the cheat sheet here.
4. Suggestions to follow. Emergency communication is about more than your address book in your phone. At the heart it is about strategy.
-If there is a major emergency in your area, phone lines may be jammed, which can make it difficult to get through to your friends and family. What you can do, however, is text! Texts are more likely to go through, and if you use your group text message, it becomes even more efficient.
-Decide now what kind of things are important to communicate if you only have a few moments to talk, or can only text. I would suggest communicating your location and your condition.
-Discuss ahead of time when it is appropriate to call 911, and/or any of the other services you have listed on your cheat sheet. Also determine who will be the primary contact in charge of orchestrating the plan for what comes next.
-Learn to forward your calls from your landline to your cell phone if you have to evacuate. Make sure to have your cell phone, wall charger, car charger, and solar charger in your Bug Out Bag. At this point in time you will also want to make sure that you conserve your phone battery by dimming the light and closing apps.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to be able to stay in touch with your loved ones in the case of emergency. Please download the cheat sheet and get your plans in place. I prefer laminating so that it can withstand weather and transport without falling apart.
Let me know if I forgot anything, or if you have additional ways to ensure you can communicate with your loved ones during an emergency!