According to the Home Safety Council, fewer than 30 percent of U.S. families have created and discussed an emergency communication plan. One of the reasons that so few families have developed one is that many people believe it requires considerable time and effort.
Creating an emergency communication plan is actually easier than you may think. The first component that you should have is a corded land line phone in your home. It is the most reliable source of communication in an emergency because it will continue to operate even if the power goes out in the house.
The second component is an emergency communication card that each family member should carry at all times. The Home Safety Council recommends creating wallet-sized emergency communication cards that include space to list important phone numbers and medical information. Families should discuss how they would communicate during an emergency situation, and then record important plan information on their emergency cards.
In addition to a communication plan, the Home Safety Council offers the following recommendations:
- Have a "Ready-to-Go-Kit" - In a duffel bag or backpack, place one gallon of water per person, non-perishable canned food, a can opener, paper plates and cups, plastic utensils, a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-operated radio, a change of clothes for each family member, personal hygiene items, a small first-aid kit, and pet food and supplies. Keep the kit near any medications you would need to take with you in an emergency.
- Have a "Ready-to-Stay Kit" - You may have to stay inside your home for an extended period of time, and this kit will help you survive. In a large plastic tub with a cover, or easily accessible cabinet designated for this purpose only, place three gallons of water per family member, enough non-perishable canned food and snacks for at least three days, a can opener, toilet paper, blankets, books and games to keep you busy, a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-operated radio, a small first-aid kit, paper plates and cups, plastic utensils, a change of clothes for each family member, personal hygiene items, and pet food and supplies.
- Designate a safe meeting place outside your home.
- Designate a safe place to seek shelter in your home in case of severe weather. Your survival supplies should be stored in this location.
- Teach young children how to use the phone to call for help.
- Update wireless phones with "in case of emergency" (ICE) contact information.