Often times I’ll ask friends and colleagues:
Do you have a family security plan in place?
Does your family know what to do in case of an emergency?
If they faced an attack or a natural disaster, would they know what to do?
How about you, have you prepared an emergency family security plan?
More often than not, the answer is no.
As a husband and father of two, the safety of my immediate family is always my top priority, and as my decades of work in the security industry have taught me – emergencies and disasters strike unexpectedly and when you are least prepared.
This is why I’ve developed an emergency protocol plan for my family, which I’d like to share with you today in hopes you will do the same for yours.
My family knows if anything happens in the way of a disaster, we will all try to get to our HOME. This might seem obvious, however in times of emergency, unexpected circumstances might present themselves that could cloud our judgements, especially for young children and the elderly. That’s why it’s important to establish home as the family’s primary rendezvous point, and verbally communicate this to all family members.
It’s also recommended to establish a secondary rendezvous point, in case access to home or the street becomes blocked. If you can’t get home, fire or police stations are great choices to seek shelter and safety. It also helps to have pre-arranged protocols with family or friends living nearby. Their home may become an alternative rendezvous point for your family, and yours for them. The key is to identify these locations ahead of time and ensure your family is well aware of the plan.
Remote Emergency Contact
In case of a catastrophic natural disaster, terrorist attack or other extreme event, making it back home might be impossible. Because of this, it’s important to designate a Remote Emergency Contact to act as your family’s private external command center.
The person my family calls if anything happens is my mom on the east coast. You know why? She’s 3,000 miles away. The call across the street might not go through as cell towers and communication hubs will be under heavy loads during emergencies, but long distance calls have a higher probability of success.
Most importantly, always develop contingencies in case your cell phone does not work or voice service is interrupted. Alternatives to making a call include: social media via a computer at the library, text messaging/ emails (may get through, even if phones are down), landline telephones & satellite phones.
You also want to make sure to look at a provider like FanmiSenior or others that offer ease of use cell phones for seniors, all models come with an SOS button that is programmable with an emergency contact, this emergency contact is the one you more than likely want to change to the family’s external command center making it easier for elderly family members to get in contact in the event of an emergency.
Make sure every member of your family knows who your Remote Emergency Contact is. As we have become so accustomed to not having to dial a phone number, every family member should practice memorizing their Remote Emergency Contact phone number. In fact – turn this into a fun family game and practice reciting the number once a month on a long family car ride. Practice makes perfect!
The Disaster Kit
In my garage, I have an emergency kit with every item my family would need to sustain ourselves for two weeks. Here’s why: in case of a catastrophic emergency, nothing works. Stores are closed or may be looted, ATMs may be offline, tap water may be compromised or not available and electricity may be turned off area-wide.
You and your family need to survive on your own so an emergency kit is essential to overcome these types of circumstances. Any emergency consumables like food or water can be periodically used and replenished in your emergency kit to make sure all is usable and safe to ingest. For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina most ATMs were out of service and FEMA had to fly cash into New Orleans to temporarily resolve the problem.
Shopping outlets like Amazon.com have a wide variety of pre-packaged disaster kits, and I encourage you to do research and purchase the one that fits your family’s size, needs and budget best.
Summary: Risk Reduction Actions
- Specify a Rendezvous Point. For extra security, prepare a secondary rendezvous point as well.
- Designate a Remote Emergency Contact. Make sure all family members remember the contact’s phone numbers by heart.
- Prepare a Disaster Kit. Make sure it contains everything you would need to sustain yourselves for two weeks.
I encourage you to find the time to discuss this with your family, and prepare your family’s emergency protocol – because after all, when it’s all said and done, what’s more important than family?
Dr. Erroll G. Southers
TAL Global Corporation
Counter-Terrorism & Infrastructure Protection
Husband and Father of two
Dr. Erroll G. Southers is an internationally recognized expert on counter-terrorism, homeland security, aviation terrorism, school safety and infrastructure protection, and Professor of the Practice in National and Homeland Security and Counter-Terrorism subject matter expert at the University of Southern California (USC).
Dr. Southers was President Barack Obama’s first nominee for Assistant Secretary of the TSA and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Deputy Director for Critical Infrastructure in the Office of Homeland Security.
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