Family Separation in an Emergency
Will your family know what to do if you are ever separated during an emergency? We often like to think that we will be joined with their loved ones just before a life-threatening emergency strikes. However, in the commotion of survival and flight, statistics show that disasters ranging from natural tragedies to armed conflict will often result in the separation of children from their families. With this in mind, be smart and plan ahead! Using the five safety tips below, learn how your family can better prepare for an emergency that may lead to separation.
Family Communication Plan: Due to damage and heavy phone traffic, it is often easier to communicate with someone that is out-of-state during an emergency. Therefore, choose a long-distance relative or close friend that your family will all contact if separated. Teach your household to use this number as a form of communicating and letting one know that the other is safe. Lastly, don’t forget to talk with your out-of-state contact to make them aware of the plan and ensure they are comfortable with this role.
Family Meeting Place: Designate a meeting place that your family will immediately go to when disaster strikes. The place you choose should be outside your neighborhood in the event that it is not safe to return to your home or stay in its surrounding areas. Each family member should be capable of reciting the address of the meeting place or locating it on their own if need be.
Safety Bracelets: If you live in a disaster-prone area, consider making “safety bracelets” for each member of the family. The bracelets have customized information engraved on the inside including a first and last name, home address, emergency contacts, severe allergies or health restrictions, and a long distance phone number to a close friend or relative. Request that everyone wear the bracelet at all times especially if your children are young or living with a disability.
Disabilities or Traveling Restrictions: A family with disabilities or traveling restrictions should start by connecting with the local police department and becoming familiar with the emergency evacuation plan. Using this information, develop a back-up strategy with close friends and neighbors in in the event that the disabled or restricted family member is alone during a disastrous situation. Lastly, to ensure emergency responders will have the information they need to properly assist your family, be sure to include details describing the health condition of each household member on your Smart911 Safety Profile.
Pet Safety: When a rapid onset disaster hits home, no animal should be left behind. However, most emergency shelters do not permit animals due to health regulations. Knowing this, research the various animal shelters, veterinary offices or even close friends in your area that are willing to house your pet or working animal during an emergency. Lastly, be sure to include your pet in the ‘family survival kit’ preparation. Stock enough food and water for your animal(s) to last at least 72 hours.