NOTE TO OUR READERS
Learn how to prepare for disasters with this good information from the the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
In the blink of an eye, disasters can alter a family’s normal routine. Neighborhood streets can be closed because of large debris or downed power lines. Suddenly, an area that is a familiar part of a normal daily routine is now unrecognizable. In times like this, it is crucial for a family to have a plan to reunite and meet at a safe location.
In observance of National Preparedness Month this September, the Oklahoma State Department of Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Service encourages families to create a plan for both adults and children to follow. A family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance: how to get to a safe place; how to contact one another; how to get back together; and what to do in different situations. During a disaster, roads are often blocked or closed and alternate routes must be used. Knowing multiple routes of travel in advance can save time and frustration when trying to reach loved ones.
Households with children should understand the school’s plans and where the children will stay safe if adults in the household need to shelter in other locations until the immediate hazard is over. Many schools have changed their policy to allow children to maintain and use phones throughout the day in case of emergencies. Become familiar with the district’s cell phone policy.
Scott Sproat, director of Emergency Preparedness and Response at OSDH, said families can better cope with disasters by preparing in advance.
“It’s possible your family may not be together when disaster strikes,” said Sproat. “That’s why it’s important for every Oklahoma family to plan on how they will contact one another and reunite if their community is impacted by a disaster.”
The following tips will assist in creating a family reunification plan.
- Create a plan for different emergencies.
- Pick two meeting spots—one near the home and one outside the neighborhood.
- Identify a friend or loved one who lives outside the area to notify they are safe. It is often easier to make a long-distance call than to call across town if local phone service is unavailable.
- When possible, use text messages instead of phone calls. Text messages can often get around network disruptions. This also allows for use of phone lines for emergency personnel.
- For cell phone users, program an emergency contact as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in the contact list. Emergency personnel can check the cell phone listings and contact a family member of someone who has been injured.
Find more tips for preparing your family for a disaster at www.ready.gov and like the OSDH Emergency Preparedness Response Service page on Facebook.