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Families can cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Create a family disaster plan including a communication plan, disaster supplies kit and an evacuation plan. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.
Contact the local American Red Cross chapter or local emergency management office—be prepared to take notes:
Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather and earthquakes to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.
Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
Pick two places to meet:
Ask an out-of-state friend to be your "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact's phone number.
Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.
Families should develop different methods for communicating during emergency situations and share their plans beforehand with all those who would be worried about their welfare. Options for remaining in contact with family and friends if a disaster strikes include:
Following the 2005 hurricane season, the Red Cross developed the Safe and Well website, which enables people within a disaster area to let their friends and loved ones outside of the affected region know of their well-being. By logging onto the Red Cross public website, a person affected by disaster may post messages indicating that they are safe and well at a shelter, hotel, or at home, and that they will contact their friends and family as soon as possible. During large-scale disasters, there will be telephone-based assistance via the 1-866-GET-INFO hotline for people who live within the affected areas and do not have Internet access, but wish to register on the Safe and Well website.
People who are concerned about family members in an affected area may also access the Safe and Well website to view these messages. They will be required to enter either the name and telephone number, or the name and complete address, of the person about whom they wish to get information. Red Cross chapters will provide telephone-based assistance to local callers who do not have Internet access and wish to search the Safe and Wellwebsite for information about a loved one.
Be assured that the information on the Safe and Well website is secure and that information about the locations where people are staying is not published. Privacy laws require the Red Cross to protect each person's right to determine how best to communicate their contact information and whereabouts to family members. The Red Cross does not actively trace or attempt to locate individuals registered on the Safe and Well website.
For more information, contact any of the following:
This information is provided by the American Red Cross and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007.