Family Emergency Planning & Communication

What is communication?

  • Giving and/or Receiving Information
  • Information is Power
    Fear often comes from the unknown. The more we know about the situation
    we are facing, the more confident we will be that we can overcome it.
  • Accurate information allows us to make informed decisions.

    How can communication be affected in an emergency?
    Do Not rely on one source of information or a single form of communication in an emergency situation.

    What information do I need?
    Note: Not all of this information is necessary before a decision how to act can be made.

  • Nature of the emergency
  • Severity
  • Areas Affected
  • Evacuate or Shelter in Place
  • Other Instructions from Authorities
  • Estimated duration
  • Family Members’ Status
  • Neighbors’ Status

    Emergency Information Sources

  • Radio / Television
  • E.A.S. (Emergency Alert System)
  • N.O.A.A. Weather Radio (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)
  • Public Address & Street by Street
  • Reverse 911 - learn if this is available in your area
  • Phone
    Phone lines are often clogged or down in an emergency
  • Face to Face
  • Everyone needs to take responsibility to be “eyes & ears” in their communities.
  • 2 Way Radio / CB Radio
    CB Channel 9 is Nationwide channel for emergency use
  • Shortwave HAM Radio

    Emergency Signaling
    Be Seen. Be Heard.

  • Signal Whistle
    Whistles can be heard further and take less energy than yelling.
  • Fire / Smoke
  • 2 Way Radio
  • Mobile Phone
  • Laser Pointer - Point a laser straight up into the sky. DO NOT point at air planes
  • Flashlight
  • Mirror - learn how to signal with a mirror
  • Ground Sign
    Step out “HELP” in snow or sand.
    Arrange letters with rocks or branches
  • Paper Message
  • Learn and Follow Neighborhood Plans
    Many communities already have “codes” in place.
    Learn and use the universally known color codes: Green - OK, Yellow - Minor Injuries, Red - Need Help Immediately, Black - Deceased.

    Check and Update Emergency Kits & Supplies

  • Check Batteries / Power Sources
  • Make sure all Equipment is in good working condition
  • Keep information and family pictures up to date
  • Teach children how & when to call emergency numbers
  • Post Numbers Near Phones & in each person's Emergency Kit

    Organize Family Communication Plan
    1. Who is going to do what, when, where & how
    2. Discuss with family about different emergency situations and how you would react.
    3. Choose a family “Secret Code Word”, practice how to use it.
    4. Learn Work, School & Day Care Emergency Plans
    Gather all contact information for each area
    5. Decide a Family Out of State Emergency Contact
    Get permission from your contact before hand and let them know what their role is.
    6. Make a Family Emergency Calling Tree
    7. Add a Written Copy of All Emergency Names, Addresses, Phone Numbers & E-mails and information in each kit. Include:

  • Each Family Member: name, age, physical description, allergies, medications
  • Work - address, phone numbers
  • School - address, phone numbers
  • Local Family Evacuation/Meeting Site #1
  • Out of area Family Evacuation/Meeting Site #2
  • Out of State Contact
  • Medical Insurance
  • Home Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Fire (Emergency & Non)
  • Police (Emergency & Non)
  • Ambulance (Emergency & Non)
  • Veterinarian
  • Pharmacist - include a list of all medication and the amount and schedule when to take them.
  • Gas / Electric / Water Utilities


  • Call Out of State Family Contact
  • Practice Family Emergency Calling Tree
  • Practice Emergency Signaling

    In an emergency, will you be part of the problem – or part of the solution?