A very big problem during and after a disaster is reliable communications. Power outages and swamped landlines can make it impossible to contact friends and loved ones. Having a Family Emergency Communication Plan will help make sure all members of your family are able to make contact and reunite.
Gather important contacts such as doctors, hospitals and schools. Designate an out of area emergency contact. Put all this information on a wallet sized card that can be laminated. Don’t forget to put your family members contact information on the card. Do not rely on memory or your cell phone for contact information.
An Out of Area Contact can be very useful during a disaster. Many times it is easier to contact a person that is out of your area than someone across town. Due to power loss and damaged infrastructure, local systems may be down or taxed with traffic. During an emergency, check in with your out of area contact at set time intervals to inform them of your location and if you are safe.
Many times, text messages and social media are more reliable than calling. Text messages take less bandwidth than voice and are easier to transmit. If you are capable of connecting to social media, you can communicate your status with alot of people in a short amount of time. Both of these methods are capable of sending group messages. It is a good idea to set these groups up before an emergency happens.
The most reliable way to communicate during disasters is Amatuer Radio (Ham Radio). Radios do not depend on local infrastructure like power and cell service. Many operators can operate for days if not weeks without power from a utility and are capable of transmitting information around the world.
Amatuer Radio requires a licsence to operate during nonemergency use. I encourage everyone to get a Technician level radio license, at the least. This gives you the capability of using equipment for local and regional communications. The FCC does allow non licensed operation if you are in danger. The problem is that you are unable to practice and get familiar with radio equipment.
If you are licensed, train your family on basic operation of your equipment and radio etiquette. Try to get them in the shack when you are operating. Many times this will help build interest in radio communications.
This will conclude our series on Disaster Planning. Start your plan today! Hopefully you won’t need it but you will be glad to have it if you do. Stay Safe!