Family Emergency Communications Plan-What is it?
We need Family Emergency Communications with your friends and family to find out if they are okay and to let them know that you are safe? If you think you will simply call them on your/their cell phone, think about these interesting facts:
- During most major events, cell phone band width becomes rapidly clogged and eventually so overwhelmed that it shuts down.
- First responders (Fire, Police, Ambulance and their Command Centers) use the same cell towers to communicate to those in the field and in many cases to the receiving hospitals
- A one-minute cell phone call uses takes up approximately the same bandwidth as 800 short SMS text messages!
So, you can see that using your cell phone may not be a reliable communication plan and if you are successful in making a voice connection, you are probably taking that technology away from the First Responders who are trying to provide support to the survivors.
Before, you cancel your cell phone plan—consider this:
- A text message is more likely to get through during and emergency even after cell phone coverage has been overwhelmed and shuts down.
- A text message will continue to be sent and eventually received even when all of the lines are busy—it will continue to send until it is received.
A Better Way to Communicate Via Text
A short text message will let your family/friends know that you are okay and therefore, prevent them from trying to use the precious cell phone bandwidth needed by First Responders.
- R-U-OK—this is just 4 letters asking “Are You Okay” (omit the dashes in your message)
- I-M-OK- this is the short response indicating “I am okay”.
Develop your family emergency communications plan:
1) Be sure your cell plan has a text option and that you and your family members know how to send and receive a text.
2) Use R-U-OK and I-M-OK texts for routine communications (e.g. your child makes it home safely from a trip or school) to ensure everyone understands how to make the communication in the event of an emergency.
3) Keep cell phones charged at all times particularly if an emergency occurs or is predicted (e.g. Hurricane).
4) Use I-C-E for your family members you wish to have an emergency room or First Responder call.
- In your “contacts” put I-C-E (In Case of Emergency) before the names of those individuals you want notified if you are incapacitated. This gives the hospital permission to call them. (e.g. ICE Mom)
5) Consider purchasing a solar and/or car charger for your phone—in case the power is out for an extended time.
6) Designate a person outside the region in which you live/work that your family could notify if they are unable to reach you. This person could then relay the message via other technology to include internet, Skype, American Red Cross, etc.