Emergencies such as natural disasters, and the human-made kind, happen all the time, but usually somewhere else. Many of us grow a little complacent when it comes to preparedness, since to even think of a bad thing happening touches our superstitious sides and seems to invite the event into our lives. But floods, earthquakes, power failures and civil unrest will continue, and will likely escalate. There are many things to consider in terms of surviving such a calamity, but two questions that absolutely have to be asked is, “who is my emergency contact person?” and “how will I reach this person?”
We have grown very comfortable with carrying a smartphone with us everywhere, but what if it got lost or broken? Or what if the cell system broke down? How would you reach someone then? I would have a hard time remembering anyone’s actual phone number, since I so seldom actually enter numbers anymore. Everything is pre-set and one-touch. Most people I ask feel the same.
That’s why it is so important to identify and Emergency Contact Point (ECP). Assign a member of your family, or a trusted neighbor to be your local ECP, and choose a second person – someone who lives at least 100 miles away, to be your long-distance ECP. Both of these people should be someone who is most likely to be available, and will be able to relay messages in case other channels fail.
In the event of a power or cell network blackout, you may still be able to make a call from a payphone or a land-line. In cases of emergency – any situation in which direct connection with family members is no longer possible – everyone should know to call in to the ECP. This person can take messages from each family member as they call in, and then relay them back out. It’s a central communications point.
Consider also having a social media place or code, for example a Twitter account or FaceBook page that could be used as a rallying point for messages, assuming you can get on to the Internet.
The key point here is to set this up in advance. Choose your ECPs and your social media strategy, and inform everyone in your family how to use them. Yes, it seems dorky and tedious, but it can save many hours or days of worry and wasted effort should things fail in a big way.