On July 30, residents of Aggieland experienced the creeping realization that a serious situation was developing just northwest of Bryan, which would, within hours, cause the evacuation of everyone north of University Drive in College Station. That day, citizens received a taste of the confusion that sometimes results when unpredicted disaster strikes.
If the evacuation had occurred on Sep. 30, with public and private schools, as well as Blinn College and Texas A&M in session, the confusion would have been vastly compounded.
In our second blog about National Preparedness Month, we'll help you make a plan, so no matter where you are when disaster strikes, you'll know what to do and where to go.
For the second step of Prepare, Plan and Stay Informed, www.Ready.gov has several great suggestions, as well as some tools to help you with family disaster planning.
PhoneBe sure to include an out-of-town contact on your contact list, as sometimes long-distance service is available when local service isn't.
Not only does everyone in your family need to know contact numbers, they also need the ability to make the call. In addition to cell phones, give each family member a pre-paid phone card with contact numbers written on it in permanent ink. This is a great way of ensuring they can communicate in an emergency.
SMS and tweetsSometimes, you can communicate through SMS (Short Message Service) Text when voice calls won't go through. Practice that capability with your family, if its available.
Emergency Alert Systems
Finally, family members should subscribe to any emergency alert system available. Texas A&M uses a Code Maroon system which uses SMS to notify students, faculty and staff of emergencies effecting the flagship campus. Twitter also has become an alert system of late, with the ability to transmit alerts to mobile devices from Code Maroon, as well as the Bryan Fire Department and other government organizations.
In addition, here are two emergency planning tools for every family.
The Family Emergency Plan page on Ready.gov will walk you through the process of consolidating the information you'll need in case of an emergency. This tool takes a bit of time, but the resulting plan is comprehensive. Do you know the address of your child’s school? Where will your family meet if your neighborhood has been evacuated?
And, the Share Emergency Information page on Ready.gov helps you create e-mail text containing basic emergency information that you can share with others.
Later this week, we'll discuss in detail how to stay informed when disaster strikes.