This is the eighth out of the twelve impacts. We've also done a 3-part post on Evacuation Plans (I, II, III) and a Shelter-In-Place Plan (SIP).
We're going to drill down into one of the twelve impacts: No Communication Services.
You have no or limited access to modern electronic communication services.
We have become wholly dependent upon instant communications. We use telephones to keep in touch with others. We log on to the Internet to purchase goods and services. We use our cell phones to call for emergency services when needed. Email, blogging, social networking and texting are omnipresent.
This also includes one-way communications, such as television and radio. Devising alternative means of communication allows you to stay advised as to the severity of an event, and establish plans to react to the impact.
- Learning about emergencies - If access to television and radio are not available, you will be unable to determine the depth and breadth of the incident, and be unable to implement the various aspects of your emergency plans. Without phones/Internet/email, similar “information isolation” occurs. You are unable to ascertain the cause and effect of an emergency, and whether it is subsiding or escalating.
- Communicating with family and friends - Aside from the emotional stress of not knowing the whereabouts and health of family and friends, you are unable to render assistance or resources if they are in need.
- Communicating with government authorities - 911, etc. You place yourself in a position where you are unable to obtain assistance for crime, fire and medical assistance.
Scenario 1: There has been an earthquake/hurricane/flood/terrorist attack/tornado, and communications services are available, but inconsistent. Somewhere in America, this type of impact happens every month of every year.
Minimum Gear/Equipment - Cell phone, emergency phone list, pad of paper, pen, Sharpie, "sidewalk" chalk, a battery-powered radio.
Bonus Gear/Equipment - An emergency cell phone charger like this, this or this (cool!). For the battery-powered options, be sure to have extra batteries! And make sure you choose a charger that works with YOUR phone. An up-grade to a hand-crank radio.
Both lists of gear/equipment are small, and can be kept in your at-home Bug Out Bag, and at-work (or on-the-road) Get Home Bag. It is assumed you keep your cell phone on your person at all times.
Every emergency preparation kit - either at home, in a Bug-Out-Bag (BOB) or a work/car Get-Home-Bag (GHB) should have a printed list of important names, phone numbers (land line and cell, if possible) and email addresses. Let me re-emphasize: Printed!
You need to assume your cell phone, smart phone or pager has become damaged or destroyed - along with the electronic phonebook it contains - and you will need to borrow someone else's phone to contact your emergency list.
Your list should contain two or more names and numbers of contacts that are outside of your general area. It has been show time and time again that, during an emergency, local phone "lines" become over-crowded and not operational. Long distance lines and text networks tend to work as long as the cell towers are not damaged. They found people buried after the Haitian Earthquake because of the text messages they sent!
Everyone that is a part of your group (family or whatever group you've established) should have the same list. The person(s) that are out-of-area should be used (with their previous permission, of course) as a message center until full communications services have been re-established.
If you reach one of your contact numbers, but get their message center, leave a message with the following information (this script should be included with your contact list):
- Your name (don't assume they will recognize your voice)
- The current date and time
- Your physical condition
- Your current location (city, state, neighborhood, business name, address, top floor, bottom floor, garage - as much information as possible)
- Who you are with, and their physical condition
- Your plans ("I will be going to the XYZ company parking lot on Maple Street in Anytown")
- When you will attempt to contact them again
- Your contact number (including area code) and the contact number of any other people in your group
Attempt to send broadcast text messages and email messages providing the same information listed above.
Listen to your radio often. You want to be sure you're not moving towards areas of devastation or violence. Public entities will also be broadcasting about locations that will be offering public assistance.
Next: Scenarios 2 and 3
Image courtesy of Clker.com
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