emergency contact persons

IEMA: Parents Should Include Emergency Preparedness In Back-To-School Plans

The following is some helpful emergency preparedness advice for parents (not just in Illinois) with kids in school. From an Illinois Emergency Management Agency press release on the Illinois Government News Network website last Friday:

Parents Encouraged to Include Emergency Preparedness in Back-to-School Plans
August is School and Campus Preparedness Month in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – As parents prepare to send their children back to school or college, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local emergency management agencies throughout Illinois are encouraging them to include emergency preparedness in their back-to-school plans.

“Disasters can happen anytime of the day, even when children are in school or daycare,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “Take a few minutes to find out how your child’s school will handle emergencies and talk to your child about how your family will communicate after a disaster.”

Joseph offered several back-to-school planning tips for parents of school-aged children, including:

• Know your child’s school or day care emergency plan.
• Find out where children will be taken in the event of an evacuation during school hours.
• Ensure your current emergency contact information is on file at your child’s school.
• Pre-authorize a friend or relative to pick up your children in an emergency and make sure the school knows who that designated person is.
• Teach children with cell phones about ‘Text First, Talk Later.’ Short, simple text messages, such as “R U OK?” and “I’m OK,” are more likely to get through than a phone call if phone service is disrupted following an emergency. As phone congestion eases, you can follow up with a phone call to relay more information. Many college campuses offer email and text messages to alert students of potential dangers, such as severe weather and other threats. Encourage your college student to sign-up for such alerts. Some colleges also provide alert messages for parents so they also are aware of potential dangers on campus. In addition, make sure your student knows the emergency plans for their dorm or apartment building.

Additional preparedness information is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Make A Plan, Continued

Since the end of August/early September, I’ve been blogging more consistently on Survival And Prosperity. However, most of the material has focused on new surprises and obstacles that have emerged with the global financial system, the U.S. economy, our society, the list goes on. Add this to the challenges already in place… and protecting and growing self and wealth gets more difficult.

Still, I hope the ideas discussed in this blog might contribute to these efforts.

With that being said, I’d like to take back up the topic of general preparedness, and resurrect an American Red Cross publication I last talked about on April 27 (my how time flies). I wrote:

Since March, I’ve been talking about the American Red Cross information sheet “Be Red Cross Ready,” a terrific launching-point for those wanting to prepare for future emergencies and disasters, and those three vital actions that can make all the difference in such events- be informed, make a plan, and get a kit. I’ve focused on “be informed” the past couple of weeks. Now let’s move on to “make a plan.”

In that April post, I republished what the Red Cross said about making a plan. I also said that I’d discuss those points in more detail. Today I’d like to do that.

First, there’s evacuating from the neighborhood in an emergency. From the sheet:

Choose two places to meet:

• Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire
Outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

When putting together the neighborhood evacuation plan, consider the following:

• Pick a meeting place outside the neighborhood that is easily-identifiable and accessible by foot, if possible. A friend’s/relative’s home could be ideal (be sure to talk to them about your plans though). A hotel/motel works too, but keep in mind there might not be any vacancies in the event of an emergency. Keep their contact info handy to book a room ASAP.
• If pets will be along for the journey, make sure the friend/relative knows about your companion. If you decide to go the hotel/motel route, check beforehand to make sure the accommodations are pet-friendly, or identify animal shelters along the evacuation route and nearby your destination if not.
• Plan two (2) routes for each direction (North, South, East, and West), as there may be a number of obstacles (debris? bridge out?) in place during an emergency. Try to avoid common routes that may be congested in an emergency.
• Plot all this information on maps and distribute them to each member of the household, who should then keep them readily-available. While electronic maps are nice, printed maps are less prone to being inaccessible.
• The household should practice evacuating the neighborhood twice a year and make note of any changes (construction sites?) that need to be made to the pre-planned evacuation routes.

Second, there’s the out-of-area emergency contact person. From the sheet:

Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

When selecting this individual, consider the following:

• The person should have voice mail or an answering machine
• In the event of an emergency, household members should listen to the radio/ watch TV for telephone use instructions, then phone the out-of-area contact person to say how and where they are, and what their plans are
• The call should be kept short, and arrange to call the contact person back at a specified time for another check-in, if possible
• Incorporate the latest communications technology (e-mail, texting) accordingly

The remainder of “make a plan” was pretty straightforward. Feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions as it relates to this section of the American Red Cross’ “Be Red Cross Ready” information sheet.

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Survival And Prosperity
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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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