“What is a family plan?” a friend asked me last week. She is new at this preparedness “thing” and wasn’t quite sure what a “family plan” should include and how to go about it.
This article should be a catalyst to start you thinking of what your family needs are, all of the circumstances that each individual might be involved in – you take it from there. Over the years, you will need to re-evaluate how your family has evolved and what your new needs may be. Let’s go through the different elements of some of the things that a family plan should include.
In a nutshell, as a family, you should sit down and discuss what you would do as individuals in different situations. For example: my friend works in Provo, Utah, her husband works in Las Vegas, Nevada, during the week, and her son is in elementary school on the other side of the valley from where she works. If we have an earthquake at noon on Thursday (this is hypothetical – I’m not predicting an earthquake), what would be their plan of action? How would they contact each other so that they can find out if everyone is okay?
That is what needs to be discussed in a family plan. Don’t count on your cell phones. Most of the time cell phones will be out of commission anyway (they are shut down during disasters and only some emergency personnel have access to them). Does your family have an out-of-state contact that can be a clearinghouse of information for everyone? (It is easier to get a phone line to an out-of-state contact than to try to call each other in state – the phone lines will be jammed).
Is there an adult they trust in the neighborhood to take responsibility and look after their son until one or both of them can make their way home? Have you asked these chosen neighbors if you can count on them and include them in your plans – or are you just assuming that they would know what you want and be able to help? During a crisis they might be having their own difficulties, and unless you have thoroughly discussed your concerns and made plans, it might not happen like you expect. Open up the lines of communication with people that you would like to have help you.
Another scenario. If something happens at night and you have to get out of the house, where will your family meet? You will want to have a pre-determined meeting place so that you won’t go back into a burning house, or one that is badly damaged, looking for someone that has already escaped and is safe. Another thought: Do you have a message spot? In other words, if you had to evacuate your house, or leave the area, where would you leave a private message giving loved ones information of what you are doing and instructions of what you want them to do? Is it in the crook of a tree? How about a small can that is located behind the house, inside the bird feeder, hanging from the maple tree? Think about where you would leave messages to make contact with family if you weren’t there.
Yes, make your kids school kits to take with them to school and leave them there until school lets out for summer. If you have children in elementary school, label it and have them hang it on their assigned coat hanger, or make arrangements with the teacher as to where it can be stored. When they get older, and start attending junior high and high school, then just have them throw it at the bottom of their locker (like everything else). Make a kit for your car and include good sturdy walking shoes and water – you will be glad you did.
A good way to keep in touch with family members, no matter what their age, is to get your HAM radio license. It costs nothing to take the class and only $14.00 to take the test. (2007) You can get a good HAM radio for only about $100.00. HAM radio capabilities do not go down during a crisis and it is very helpful to have to keep in touch with your family, anytime, anywhere. You can even use it like a cell phone! You can get your license at any age – I think that there are kids as young as 5-7 years old that have their license (their parents are really into HAM radios and so they have a really good understanding of things). As long as you can take the test and pass it, you can get your license AND you don’t have to know Morse code anymore (whew). My license number is KE7FGM. My son gave me a radio for my birthday and make things even better, he got his HAM license too.
An in-depth family meeting, talking about serious subjects such as preparedness and how to be safe in an emergency, is the best thing that you can do to put everyone on the same page and come together in purpose. It will help everyone to act in unison and to accomplish the same thing, peace of mind and safety – even though you may be in different places.
And have you got your water stored yet?