Every family and even the community that lives in a disaster-prone area should prepare a solid and clear emergency communications plan. It is vitally important that you train with each other and make sure that everyone understands the steps completely. This is especially true for children, as they are prone to forgetting what does not interest them personally. Otherwise, you should understand the importance of your training sessions and why you, as a family, have to do this.
Optionally, you can try to turn it slightly into a game, but you should still point out that, in a real emergency situation, it will not be as fun as during training. The idea is to involve all the members of the family, make everyone understand the importance of their emergency communications plan and, however, not stress during the training.
The principle behind the acronym COMMUNICATE
This acronym is popular with preppers (and created by ready.gov) and they use it to easily remember some of the most important points of an emergency communication plan.
- doTake the family plan and stick to it. Distribute among all emergency phone numbers of family members, including the personal phone numbers of each family member. Give information to the meeting places.
- ORptions: you can use several elements to establish communication. From the cell phone, to landlines and emails too.
- SUBWAYBe sure to become familiar with your child’s school emergency plan
- SUBWAYMake a plan about where to meet if you can not get to your home, in case of a disaster / emergency
- ORnderstand: it takes time to communicate with all the members of your family. It requires patience. Do not panic.
- northeeds: your pets should also be considered, including their needs. Grab a cage if you have a cat. Do not leave them behind.
- IInformation – You need to stay informed at all times. Get an emergency radio, watch the news, read online, etc. In severe cases, only the radio that runs on batteries will help.
- doChoose the plans and save them in a place that you can access in seconds. This is especially important during emergencies, when you need to leave quickly.
- ATell your children and partners how they feel, both about the situation and about the emergency plan. Discuss the plan together. Make sure the children understand.
- THave your children and your spouse see the places and places of the meetings. Go together from time to time to remember the instructions. They need to get to them without much thought.
- mymergency – Talk about the different levels and severity of emergency situations. Talk about the dangers of each type of emergency and how that will affect your plan.
This was a simplified summary offered by the government to remind you of the most important aspects of the emergency communications plan.
When discussing the emergency communications plan, we must indicate the purposes of this plan. These are three simple purposes:
- To start the plan, or change some step of its execution.
- Start / inform at the beginning of a stage / phase of the plan.
- To report on your status / requirements, also known as status report (SITREP)
It can be said immediately that if you need to communicate for some other reason or purpose, this means that your plan has really failed. An emergency communications plan should not be about anything other than the start, phases, end of plan and periodic reports. No other reason should be implemented in your plan, otherwise you will saturate it with unimportant information and your plan will be difficult to remember. Of course, this should not discourage you. No plan is bulletproof or error-free. Be prepared to adapt the plan to the situation.
There are five goals that your plan must meet. Your plan must be complete, clear and concise, unequivocal and finally confirmed. While these concepts are easy to understand, we must concentrate for a while on explaining the details.
Your message must be Clear. This means two things: the recipient must be able to hear it clearly and also understand it immediately. This can be a little difficult if you use a walkie-talkie or a cell phone is a bad reception. For this reason, your message can also be very brief and send only the most important information. Grammar does not matter during emergencies, so do not worry about that.
The message should be, of course, to complete. This depends on the situation, but if, for example, you need to meet someone in a certain place (where), do not assume you know when this meeting will happen. Give them the complete image. You may also want to know why they need to meet with you: do they need something, are they in trouble, are they hurt, etc.?
Unmistakable messages They are also clear and concise by default. However, many people tend to believe that if they tell you the location, they know exactly what part of the location. Assume that you know and # 8216; the circular point ‘in its location, but what happens if there are 4 circles? Be sure to convey the message as clearly as possible, without any hint of ambiguity. The recipient must be able to find it almost without additional clarifications.
Concise messages It can become ambiguous. It is a pure art to make the message concise, clear and unambiguous. This is why the training and dry practice of your emergency communications plan is so crucial. Consider what places could be used for the meeting places, issue the clearest message you can and stick to it. Leave it in a calm and relaxed situation. The brain does not necessarily work at optimal levels while you are in danger and you may panic.
And of course, the message should be confirmed On the other side of the reception. You must set messages or send signals in some way to indicate that the other person on the phone has transmitted the message correctly, and you understood and received it. Then, confirm that. Optionally, you could reformulate the message shortly and share what you understood, so there is no risk of lack of communication.
The meeting place
Once we have established what is a successful communication, we must advance more to the most precise stages of planning.
As disasters sometimes occur quite unexpectedly, or the time that elapses from the warning / warning issued to the actual strike of the disaster may be too short for your family to meet in your home, you must establish the places to meet, depending where are you at that moment? We recommend that you choose two different locations: one in your neighborhood and one outside of it.
In the first situation, assume that they are all together at home, and when the disaster occurs, they should meet at a specific place in the house. This can be anything: the basement, the porch or any location that does not endanger you. The porch is not a good idea during a tornado, while the basement is not good during earthquakes. Choose the place with care.
The second location should be selected in case neither of the two can meet at home within reasonable time limits. Children are in school, you are working or driving, etc. The location you choose should be as safe as possible and familiar to all of you. If not, go there several times, all together, to get used to get to this place.
Finally, keep in mind that if one or more members of your family can not get home, you must designate someone (a relative or close friend) to care for your pets (if you have any). It is possible that this person has to reach the children (if you are the one who can not meet at the designated place), or care for someone who stays at home (for example, an older person), etc.
The actual communication method
Usually, a cell phone will help you communicate with the people you need to communicate with quickly. Even during disaster events when the lines get stuck, you can still contact a person outside the area / state of emergency.
This means that you must have at least two additional contacts, one inside the affected area (a spouse, a relative or a close friend) and a contact that is outside the area. If you can not communicate with the first contact, you can almost always contact the other person. In general, long distance calls will go through the traffic jam.
Also, if you need to communicate urgently with your relatives, you do not have to try to call them. First of all, you may not even be able to do it because the lines will get stuck. The best and most recommended method is to send text messages. This is because text messages require less bandwidth to reach the desired person.
As we already advise, prepare a contact sheet (you can find these sheets on the FEMA website) where you must write all the contacts related to you. It should include telephone contacts of family members, parents, guardians, general practitioners, dentists, pharmacists, etc., including national and local emergency telephone numbers. This sheet of paper should be copied to all members of your family or let them memorize the numbers. For small children and the elderly with memory problems, the printed copy should always be with them.
In addition to hard copies, insert all these contacts into the cell phones of all members. Place a copy next to the landline, at home.
The communication plan
Here is the essence and the core of the topic, and it is related to the exact way in which you are implementing all your communication ideas and executing them as best as possible.
First, you must consider the possible events and reactions during a specific disaster situation. For example, if you need to call your spouse to meet your location, but you are not receiving an answer, you may worry. While on the other side, your spouse, suppose, does not listen to the phone because it is in your backpack. This is a possible scenario, and you need to go through all the options that can cause your plan to fail.
Therefore, plan all the steps accordingly. The previous example shows that you did not think about the Confirm stage of your plan You could never transmit the message in the first place.
Here are the aspects of your plan that you should consider:
- Who calls and requests a meeting;
- What is the purpose of the call (do you need to bring something?);
- You must achieve something before the meeting;
- What is the location location (both general and specific);
- The time it will arrive at the location;
- What will you do if this meeting fails (or something changes)?
If you consider these steps very well and plan your communication using this plan, you have many possibilities to reach all family members and finally meet in the desired place.
Types of communication
Another aspect of your plan is to establish how to designate the additional phases (if any) of your plan. For example, you could send a message that the person who is with you will see a broken bus at the corner of street A. If they do, they are in the correct stage and can move on. If they do not see it, they should back off a little, until they find the bus broken. This type of communication is called impersonal.
Personal Communication is when you speak directly with the person and are physically in the same place. You can touch the person. Talking on Skype is not personal, but telecommunication. Any of these types of communication must be integrated in some way and expressed within your plan.
After all, cell phones are not always a 100% reliable medium, so you should try to communicate with each other using other communication techniques and methods. Do these methods together, for all of you to approve and remember. And do not forget to always include the unfavorable result in which your message does not reach the recipients.
Another important aspect to keep in mind is that you need several backup plans for different stages of emergency. For example, your primary plan is Plan A. This could be contacting everyone and communicating through cell phones. If this has no obstacles, then Plan A has proven to be sufficient. In general, plan A should be considered the best plan. This is also the plan that has the highest probability of success and of retransmitting the message (and organizing the meeting).
And yet, there is a possibility that Plan A will not be executed. For this unpleasant situation, you must have a Plan B, or an alternative plan. This plan should be as useful and applicable as the first. A good example would be to use a communication device, different from a cell phone, for example, Skype, walkie talkie, radio communications, radio amateurs, etc.
the contingency plan It is one that supports the previous two if they failed. For example, he lost his cell phone or ham radio, and he needs to find another way to reach the other members of his family. So, decide a good way to convey the messages in a different way, it could be personal or impersonal, but if you lost your cell phone and this was your main and alternative plan, then it can not be related to telecommunications.
However, you can reach, say, an Internet zone where you have access to a computer. You can send messages, but you must make sure that the other end also has a computer to receive the message. You understand.
Finally, the Emergency plan If all the others fail, it should not require any communication. Everyone should know what to do, where to go, etc., if they can not communicate with each other. This may mean that all of you will arrive at a certain place or special location. It must also be safe (in case there is a tornado, flash flood, tsunami, etc.) on the outside.
National emergency communication plan.
In general, the state / country must ensure that it can safely transmit emergency messages to its citizens. This often happens through emergency radios and other similar means. For emergency radios seem to be the most used and trusted. Most of these products can be loaded in several different ways to ensure that you can receive emergency messages / news / alerts regularly, without at least minimizing or minimizing power outages.
You must ensure that all members of your family can have unhindered access to that radio, or even give one to each member of the family. Some emergency radios have a two-way communication system: send and receive messages.
Finally, practice your plans, both primary and secondary. Make it fun, but make sure your children understand that once you really need to do it, then it’s a serious matter.
While you are well prepared and have discussed together as many options as possible, you significantly minimize the risk to your family during a disaster. Do not forget the contact sheet and give it to everyone in your home, and keep in mind that you must have a long distance contact to act as an intermediary if you can not communicate with your family.