JoDana Bright Taylor

EDITOR’S NOTE: The North Lincoln Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) works to help the community be prepared for disasters and various emergencies. One concern often heard is how overwhelming it seems to take all the steps needed to be prepared for a disaster. To address that issue North Lincoln CERT has embarked on a 52-Week Personal Preparedness Challenge.

When an emergency happens, one of our first responses is to reach out to family and friends and let them know how we are.  We seek those critical connections for both comfort and help.

This week’s personal preparedness challenge has to do with maintaining emergency contacts in a crisis by having a communication plan.

So many of us are now so dependent on our smart phone contacts lists that we rarely memorize phone numbers anymore, we also rely on our internet connection to find answers and contacts for a variety of services.  These can be a dangerous practice in the wrong circumstances.

In developing a communication plan, think on three levels, where the first level is general information and resources, the second is local contacts, and the third is distance contacts.  For all of these, have a WRITTEN list of names and numbers: NEVER rely on electronics in an emergency.

Under general information and resources, include contact information for 911 emergency dispatch, non-emergency fire and police numbers, poison control center, family doctor or clinic, and veterinarian.  Consider also including the claims numbers for insurance companies and service department numbers for utility companies.

Under local contacts, include names, addresses, and phone numbers for local friends and family members who you would contact if you needed help quickly, a local place to stay, or general help or support.  If you have children, you may want to add contact info for the parents of your children’s friends as well.

Under distance contacts, include friends or family members living in areas hundreds of miles or several states away.  In a medium or large-scale emergency, entire regions may be impacted.  Even smaller events may knock out communications for a local area.  It may be easier to contact someone in Idaho than in three towns over.  Having distance contacts creates a central clearinghouse for information about your status and safety.  If you are trying to reunite with local loved ones but local communications are out, knowing that everyone is calling Aunt Martha in Minnesota and that Aunt Martha can relay all vital information can be very helpful.   

Make sure you have a printed list of all the above contact information, place the list in an airtight bag, and have a copy of it in your go kit, your vehicle, and clearly posted in your home.  In addition, make sure that your vital local and distance emergency contacts, including Aunt Martha in Minnesota, know about your plan, and even provide them with a copy of your list.  Finally, keep a baggie of several dollars worth of quarters in each kit for use with payphones.

If you’d like to know more about personal preparedness and how to get involved with your local CERT chapter, contact JoDana Bright, NLC CERT Public Information Officer, at 541-994-2700 or follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/NLCCERT or on Twitter at @NLC_CERT.

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