I can remember being at a family reunion for Thanksgiving when the Mumbai attacks occurred. Most of the extended family just starred blankly wondering how such an atrocity could occur. Our family on the other hand took a few moments to talk about our comms plan.
It’s not like we have an elaborate or detailed family communications plan, but we do at least put effort into having something. Due to my travel schedule we have had challenges keeping in touch and work at it more than most.
Whether it is a natural disaster, civil unrest or worse a domestic terrorist attack traditional methods of communication may be overloaded, unreliable or even disabled. The first suggestion is to make sure that everyone with a cell phone has the numbers of loved/family members either committed to memory or better documented the old fashion way; pen & paper. We rely so heavily on our modern cell phones that when they go down because of lost service or more than likely a dead battery you may need to use alternate devices to communicate and might not have access to your important contacts.
Texting is great in times like these, I like it because messages are short and to the point. Perfect for communicating when clear and concise is the best strategy. Your priority should be to notify your chain of command, that’s code for family you are 1) safe, 2) located and 3) next actions. Initial contact is not the time to talk about the event, there will be plenty of time for that later, get the word out first.
If you use an alternate device to text, the number may be unfamiliar to family/loved ones so we lead with “@Jeff” to let the recipient know it is me and vice versa. That way, you don’t have to ask yourself who’s sending me a text from this unfamiliar number.
If things are really bad, communications for the region may be offline so we ask a family member out of state to act as a communications base. If we cannot get in touch with each other we will contact them and pass information back and forth. They can also pass us information we may not be getting regarding the situation from national and other sources.
If we are home and a natural disaster or major event should strike we have to consider being separated, kids at school, out running errands or a host of other activities. Our first rally point is our home where we assess the situation and determine whether to stay or seek shelter elsewhere. Should we not be able to return to our home for some reason such as safety we establish a couple of local rally points. We will meet at these rally points, assess the situation and determine whether to return home or move to family regionally.
There are also nationally based communication methods that allow loved ones to communicate, post information so that is another option to explore.
Noah built the ark before the rain so taking time to make some simple preparations and plans will provide you a sense of relief during some crazy and difficult times.