Reconnect with Family After a Disaster

How to Reconnect with Family After a Disaster

After a tornado, hurricane, fire or any unexpected disaster or emergency, you and your family members may get separated.  Often this may happen while you are at work and your children are at school.  


So what can you do to assist with reconnecting with family members quickly?  By taking some pre-event measures will help speed up the reunification process.  Here are some steps you can take to reconnect with your love ones.

Step 1:

Select a predetermined location where your family can meet. You should choose one right outside your home, in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire.  Choose another location outside your neighborhood, in case you can’t return home, such as when there are impassable roads after a tornado. Discuss your plan with all household members and practice the plan a minimum of twice a year. 

If you have school age children check with their school to learn its emergency disaster plan.  All schools should have these plans in place. The school may require a parent or authorized guardian to come and pick up the child.  Finding out ahead of time will alleviate confusion if an emergency or disaster happens.

Step 2:

Ask an out-of-state friend or someone who may not be affected directly by the same emergency or disaster to be your “family contact.”  After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance.  Other family members should call this person
and tell them where they are.  Everyone in your household must know the family contact’s phone number.  Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.

Families should develop different methods for communicating during emergency situations, and share their plans, beforehand, with all those who would be worried about their welfare.

Options for remaining in contact with family and friends if a disaster strikes include:

  • Phone contact with a designated family member or friend who is unlikely to be affected by the same disaster.
  • Email notification via a family distribution list.
  • Registration on the American Red Cross Safe and Well Website.
  • Use of the toll-free Contact Loved Ones voice messaging service (1-866-78-CONTACT).
  • Use of the US Postal Service change of address forms when it becomes necessary to leave home for an extended period of time, thus ensuring that mail will be redirected to a current address.