Sandy Hook. The Boston Bombing. The Texas fertilizer plant explosion. The Moore, OK tornado this week.
This heavy-hearted feeling of mourning with people I’ve never met, but with whom I sympathize, empathize and feel bonded to as an American, human being and parent is becoming far too familiar.
Maybe it’s because I’m a mom of young kids, but it’s the stories about the children that hit me the hardest. And now news of yet another elementary school where some of the students will never come home…
And as this week’s tragedy unfolded, I listened to stories of family members who didn’t know where their loved ones were and had no way to contact them. Children from area schools who survived were scattered in different shelter locations. Parents didn’t know where they were, there was no avenue to contact the parents or parents couldn’t get to them because of all the destruction.
We don’t really have a family disaster preparedness plan. I’m not one to sit and worry over the future. I don’t really spend time imagining worse case scenarios and what ifs. But as news came in last night I wondered what would we do.
What if Wade and I were at home, Dave was 45 minutes away working and David was at school several miles away from home? What if Wade and I couldn’t get to the school? What if Dave couldn’t get back from work? What if David was stranded at school? Or what if he were evacuated to an unknown location? And what if telephone, cell and internet service we unavailable in our area for us to contact each other? How would we find each other?
Our home fire safety plan includes a rendezvous point in the front yard, far enough from the house to be safe, but close enough to easily find. That way if there’s a fire in the night and we all need to exit the house separately, we can account for each other and know we all got out.
I realized we need a rendezvous point if we’re ever separated by distance in a disaster as well. Not a physical location, but someone to whom we can all report. My in laws live very close to us. In a disaster they might be cut off from communication with us as well. But my parents are at little less than 2 hours from us. They’re far enough away that they probably wouldn’t be affected in the event of a large scale disaster in our area.
If we’re separated, our plan is to try and get word to my parents of our locations, and they would be our communication go-between. Now David is only 8 and Wade is only 4. They probably can’t remember their grandparents’ phone number or address, but they can at least tell someone their grandparents’ names and the town they live in. (We reviewed that information at dinner tonight and will do so frequently.) Authorities should be able to find my parents with that information.
I hope we never need to put this plan into action, but knowing we have one helps give me peace of mind. Does your family have a disaster preparedness plan?