We talked in our last post, Day 1: Creating an Evacuation Plan. Now, that you have created your plan, practiced your escape routes and are feeling confident about any disaster you may encounter – it’s time to see what Day 2’s Tip has in store for you and your family, friends and communities.
There are actually two parts to this post, though the second will be a tool you can use if you have no family or friends to whom you can count on as an out-of-state contact as this post is mostly geared towards. Flexibility should be part of the planning stage to give multiple ways to being Prepared when encountering all types of Disasters and Emergencies.
The main purpose of having an out-of-state contact is so that when there is a large incident that may occur in your area, you can contact your out-of-state person to let them you are okay. This contact can serve as the point-of-contact for all of your designated family members or friends or for those to whom you have given their contact info to.
Ways you can contact them is by phone [the phones may be down at the time of the event], email or by Social Media [if they are not overloaded by affected users] or through other friends and loved ones that can reach out to your out-of-state-contact for you.
This information as to the name of your Contact, their address, phone number, email address and other pertinent information should be kept with your “Go Kit” and in an agreed upon location where Family members can easily access.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Practice several times a year with your Contact so you both know what to expect during a Disaster or an unplanned Emergency. You could apply this during a wildland fire event, earthquake, tornado, serious flooding event, evacuation or any other type of incident.
BE PRO-ACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE
Creating an out-of-state contact now and being pro-active for that “disaster” event is the best advice we can give you. Waiting at the last-minute could easily cause confusion, undue stress and panic if you have no idea who you should be contacting, especially if they don’t know you are trying to reach them during the “unplanned emergency”.
Phone lines may be down causing you to be unable to reach family members. This may be the case even if you already have an established contact but at least, everyone has one person to go to, instead of each person asking if they have heard from so-so with unnecessary worry. Contact through email or posting to Social Media may be down due to cell sites or internet hosts could have damaged equipment, but if they aren’t – you can notify your contact person in this manner.
Practice ways as if the communication has been lost and let your out-of-state contact the expectations in some of the many ways you may be in touch with them. It is a great way to see what works and what doesn’t.
We know that putting this Tip into action may be more difficult now, as all communications are working properly than if in an actual disaster event when they may not be.
So, you don’t have a friend or loved one outside of your home state and need an alternative tool to use. The American Red Cross has a website and mobile app called “Safe and Well”. This is a site that allows you and your family members to log in to say you are Safe and Well. Friends and loved ones can also “search” on the Red Cross website for you and your family members finding you are safe.
To find out more information about this site, go to the American Red Cross website: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
[c] 2015 The NW Fire Blog