4 Tips for Communicating During an Emergency

It’s possible that with smart phones and social media today, we’re not as awestruck as we once were by our ability to connect with others. But, this only holds true until you lose your phone, or your child “accidentally” hurls it into the toilet, flushing your contacts into oblivion. Then you realize how important those numbers where and how embarrassingly few you can recall from memory (from personal experience: my childhood home phone, pizza delivery, Jenny’s number [867-5309], and 9-1-1).

With a phone number or an email address, you have an open channel to communicate with the people you love the most, sharing the good, the bad and the ugly so you can celebrate, commiserate and plan together. But communication serves a much greater purpose when disaster strikes and it’s important to make sure you’ve included all of your children’s caregivers in your communication circle. If the teachers, coaches and caregivers in your children’s lives don’t have your digits, they won’t be able to contact you quickly following an emergency.

Here are some simple steps that all parents should take to ensure that they can reach their children during an emergency:

  1. Give out your phone number. Ensure all caregivers have your contact information (home, cell and work phone numbers, email, and social media accounts if applicable) as well as three other emergency contacts. Two of these contacts should be local and one should be out-of-town in case an emergency takes down power lines or overwhelms local servers.
  2. Update your contact information. Make sure caregivers have the most up-to-date, accurate information and resubmit emergency contact information each year. It’s kind of like renewing your vows, but it’s easier and there’s no cake.
  3. Save your caregivers’ information somewhere you can easily access it. Make sure you have contact information for your child’s caregiver, including phone numbers, email and street address.
  4. Teach your children. Help your child memorize critical contact information, including your name (first and last), home and cell phone numbers, and your street address. If they somehow get separated from the class or an adult, knowing this information and who to share it with will help responders reunite them with you more quickly.

The truth is, we don’t know when or where the next crisis will strike, so having emergency contacts and a communications plan in place is the best way to ensure your family is prepared.

For more information about creating a family communications plan, consult the Save the Children’s Family Disaster Checklist.

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