Family Communications Plan

Disasters and emergencies can strike any time – during the morning when everyone is home, during the day when family members are both at work and at school, and on weekends when family members might be traveling separately. Make a family communications plan now so you and your family can more easily contact and find each other during or after a disaster.

One way to accomplish this is to complete a contact card for each family member at Ready.gov. Print and keep these cards handy in a wallet, purse, or backpack. Another way is to make sure all family members’ cell phones have ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts stored. ICE contacts help rescue workers easily identify who to contact if they find someone injured and alone or without family nearby. And, make sure all family members know how to create, send, and retrieve text messages on cell phones. Sometimes text messages are able to get through disrupted phone service lines even when calls cannot.

Remember to check with your children’s day care or school. These schools should include identification planning as part of their emergency plans.

Family Communication Tips Review

  • Identify an out-of state contact person, such as a friend or relative, for household members to notify they are safe. Make sure every member of your family knows these contact phone numbers and has a cell phone or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact.
  • Program emergency contact numbers into cell phones as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency). Some cell phones give you the option of identifying a contact as an ICE contact and then displays that contact name in red.
  • Make sure all family members know how to use text messaging (also known as SMS or Short Message Service). Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
  • Subscribe to alert services. Many communities have emergency systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. Sign up by visiting your local Office of Emergency Management Web site.