Planning is a key way to reduce stress. Create a family communication plan to reduce stress during a disaster and specifically, during Hurricane Season.
Many incidents in the news can spark the discussion of “What would you do?” Talk to family members and work through plans in advance for house fire, road closure or other situations that might keep you from communicating and connecting. It is good to have a home fire drill and designate a safe place to meet away from the house; perhaps the mailbox or the street corner.
You and your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so how will you connect? What if you cannot get home? How would you communicate with family? Who could they call to find out what has happened? Designate one or two key contacts for all family members to communicate with. Talk to a neighbor that could provide emergency childcare until you get home.
In a large scale incident, you may want to designate a public place to meet away from your neighborhood such as a 24-hour store which would have food, water, and restrooms.
Identify a relative or friend out of the area for family members to contact as a central communication station. Sometimes, it is easier to make long distance calls than local calls. In some cases, text messaging may work, even if phone service is not available.
Be sure all family members know the plan. Give them change for a pay phone if one is available. Program the important phone number into their phone as ICE (for In Case of Emergency). Keep a paper copy of phone lists in case phone batteries go dead.
After a disaster, letting your family and friends know that you are safe and well can bring loved ones great peace of mind. American Red Cross has a website which is designed to help make that communication easier. Residents, tourists and even foreign visitors in the disaster area can register their current status online. There is also a link to inquire about families in war or disasters overseas. Click on the “List Myself as Safe and Well” button to register yourself on the site. Or, you can search for a loved one who has registered in the affected area. Safe and Well is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is accessible in both English and Spanish. http://www.redcross.org/find-help/contact-family