As I move forward to outline 30 ways in 30 days for individuals and families to become better prepared for emergencies, I have stressed the importance of having a Family Emergency Plan. If you have not yet done so; you can download a Family Emergency Plan Template here:
When disaster strikes there's a very good chance that the entire family may not be together. Some may be at work far away, others may be participating in activities elsewhere in the community. One person may be well outside the community, while someone else could be out of town altogether.
It is entirely possible that when disaster strikes no one is home as well, but yet your home becomes inaccessible, and it may be difficult to communicate with each other right away. Even for those that are home, if your house is damaged in the disaster you need to have a place to meet and re-group.
Having pre-determined locations as to where to meet will significantly increase the chances of successful family reunification quickly after a disaster. As part of your family plan identify three meeting places where the family can re-assemble after a disaster. The three alternative meeting places should be:
(1) In your neighborhood and near your home.
(2) In your community, but away from your home and neighborhood in the event that your entire neighborhood is impacted.
(3) In the region; in case your entire community is impacted by the disater.
Your neighborhood location may be something as simple as out in front of a corner house. or at a major intersection. It may be a public facility, such as a neighborhood Park.
Meeting places within your community may be public buildings, such as a place of worship, a train station, or park district facility. Local businesses that operate late hours or on a 24 hour basis cann also be a good location to meet.
In the event that the entire community may be impacted, and travel to or within the community may be difficult and a large scale evacuation becomes necessary, a regional meeting place can serve as a central location to meet for family members coming from multiple locations. A relative's home that lives outside the community, but within the region can be a good meeting place when your entire community may have been impacted.
While I will go into greater detail about understanding your local school's emergency plan, for now recognize that its important to know the disaster policy of the school or daycare center your children attend. Make plans in advance to have someone pick up your children following an emergency if you are not able to do so. Be sure to fill out the necessary release forms ahead of time.
Remember that having pre-determined locations as to where to meet will significantly increase the chances of successful family reunification quickly after a disaster.