Develop an “Emergency Communications Plan” in case family members are separated from one another during a disaster emergency, (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), and have a plan for getting back together.
Families should develop different methods for communicating during emergency situations and share their plans beforehand with all those who would be worried about their welfare. These should include:
- Prepared Plan: Well defined plan with Emergency Information ID Cards for all family members.
- Out-of-State Contact. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the ‘family contact’. After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone knows the name, address and telephone number of the contact person.
- Phone, Email or Text Messages. If mobile phones are working, text a message and/or images to other family members.
- Social Media. Use Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus to post messages to other family members online accounts.
- Click Here to Learn More – Emergency Communications Plan – ID Cards
Following the 2005 hurricane season, the Red Cross developed the Safe and Well website, which enables people within a disaster area to let their friends and loved ones outside of the affected region know of their well-being. By logging onto the Red Cross, a person affected by disaster may post messages indicating that they are safe and well at a shelter, hotel, or at home, and that they will contact their friends and family as soon as possible. During large-scale disasters, there will be telephone-based assistance via the 1-866-GET-INFO hotline for people who live within the affected areas and do not have Internet access, but wish to register on the Safe and Well website.
People who are concerned about family members in an affected area may also access the Safe and Well website to view these messages. They will be required to enter either the name and telephone number, or the name and complete address, of the person about whom they wish to get information. Red Cross chapters will provide telephone-based assistance to local callers who do not have Internet access and wish to search the Safe and Well website for information about a loved one. 
- Image Source: http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2013/07/do-1-thing-family-communication-plan/ [Accessed: April 24, 2104]
- Safe and Well – Website: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/zf/safesearch/search
- Red Cross – Website: http://www.redcross.org/
- Image Source: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/zf/safesearch/search