Storm Safety Plans — Developing an Emergency Communication Plan

As we saw after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, when disaster strikes, you could lose power, lose access to cellular service, have to evacuate, and even become separated from your loved ones. You need to have an emergency communication plan in place now so that when a storm, flood, or other emergency happens, you and your family will be able to remain in contact with each other.

Gathering Information

The first step in developing a family communication plan is to gather the contact information for every member of your household. Write down each person’s cell phone number, work numbers, emails, and social media accounts. Also include the address and telephone numbers of employers, schools, daycares, doctors, fire department, pharmacist, veterinarians, and kennels.

Next, choose a contact person that lives out of town to act as a central message center for family members. This way, if any of your family members cannot reach someone, they can contact the “message center” to relay information to each other.

Once you have this information together, you can find several different online forms you can use to record this information. FEMA, the Red Cross, and Ready.gov all have free forms that you can use. After filing out the form, print several copies and place them in your vehicles, emergency supply kits, and keep one posted in your home. You can also download templates for “cards” that you can print for each person to carry with them when they leave home. Having these numbers written down is very important, because you may not also have access to your cell phone after the storm, and you don’t want to have to rely on memory when you may already be stressed and overwhelmed.

Decide on Emergency Meeting Places

Establish several meeting places where your family can to reunite after the storm if going home is not an option. If you have family members with special needs or you have pets, keep this in mind when you chose your meeting places.

  • In Your Home — Choose a room in your home that does not have windows or exterior doors to shelter in a storm. Make sure that everyone in your family knows to go to this room if a hurricane, tornado, or other storm warning is issued. In a flood event, go to a higher secondary meeting place that is above flood water levels.
  • In Your Neighborhood — Select a place in your neighborhood where family members can meet. If the road to your home is destroyed, where is a safe, close alternative. Examples may include a particular market, or even the stop sign at the end of a nearby road.
  • In Your City — You need a place your family can meet if they cannot get home and your neighborhood meeting place is also unavailable. Choose a well-known location, such as a church, community center, school, library, or a family friend’s home.
  • Out of Town — When you cannot get to any of your meeting places because it is too dangerous, or government officials have ordered an evacuation, you need a meeting place outside of your town. This can be the home of a family member or friend.

    List the names and addresses of your meeting places on your emergency contact sheet and cards. Have discussions with your family members about the situations that could require you to meet at these special locations. Every few months, practice your emergency communication plan to help ensure your family members understand what they should do in an emergency.

    After the Storm

    When it is safe to return home, you need to examine the damage to your home and property. Contact your insurance company immediately to file a claim. If your insurance provider is delaying, denying, or refusing to pay the value of your claim, call our insurance claims attorneys for help. We want you to receive the monetary assistance you need to recover from the storm.

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