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Finding Family and Friends after Disaster Strikes

In the confusion and chaos surrounding sudden disasters like storms, wildfires, or terrorist acts, there is little more nerve-wracking than separation from family and friends. Whether you are apart when disaster strikes or suddenly separated during the event, the stress and uncertainty can be short-lived if you have a strong preparedness plan in place. Study these tips with your loved ones so that you can connect quickly and safely after a catastrophe.

Before the Event

Preparation and peace-of-mind go hand in hand. Make sure your household has a reconnection plan so anxiety and disorientation do not prolong your separation.

  • Equip each family member with a cell phone or pay-as-you-go device with SMS capability, if possible. In the wake of a disaster, text messages often travel when phone calls do not.
  • Agree on an in-town meeting place with your family, and have children and teens memorize routes to get there. Make sure younger children know the exact name of the meeting place (i.e. Richland Elementary School, First Baptist Church of Rockwell).
  • Designate an out-of-town friend or relative as the family emergency contact. Make sure that each family member knows how to contact this person, either by cell phone or pay phone.
  • Be prepared to provide identifying information about your loved ones. Descriptions of distinctive features or medical conditions may be helpful in the event of separation.
  • List family members in your phone as "In Case of Emergency" contacts. Emergency response personnel will often contact these individuals if you are injured or incapacitated.
  • Sign up for alerts from relief organizations, government agencies, and security service providers.

After the Event

Once you are in a safe place, calmly contact your loved ones. Emergency resources and aid groups can help you reunite when traditional communication falls through.

  • Choose text messages or e-mail when possible; these messages bypass communication blockages, transmit more quickly, and help keep phone lines clear for emergency responders. Focus on short messages that convey vital information such as "I'm alive" or "I am safe."
  • Seek out emergency workers, law enforcement personnel, or security officers. These individuals have access to critical networks and resources to help you find your loved ones.
  • Register yourself as "Safe and Well" with the American Red Cross as soon as possible after displacement. Family members using the organization's "Safe and Well" database can search for your name and list theirs as well.
  • Reach out to organizations like Contact Loved Ones, the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System, or the Next of Kin Registry for help locating missing loved ones. Track down animals through the Missing Pet Network.
  • If you are a foster family or caregiver, contact your family's social worker as soon as possible after a disaster.

About U.S. Security Associates

U.S. Security Associates (USA) is one of North America's largest security companies, with 160 locally-responsive offices providing premier national security services and global consulting and investigations to customers in a range of industries. Recognized for world class customer service, leading-edge technology, and an enterprise approach to risk management, USA offers optimized security solutions to meet specific customer needs. USA is committed to building quality security and risk management programs that are Safe. Secure. Friendly.® The Securing Knowledge series is part of the extensive and growing library of reference and training tools that contribute to USA's award-winning customer service and benchmark security programs. USA's investment in training and development resources is reflected not only by BEST Awards from the American Society for Training & Development, consistent ranking on the Training magazine Top 125, and technology-driven quality management system, but also by the company's leadership team, security officers, and service excellence on a daily basis.

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