Hurricanes are massive storm systems that contain multiple hazards including high winds, flooding, power outages, lightening, and possible tornadic activity. The biggest threat from a hurricane is windblown debris and the potential for structural damage to buildings. It is important to seek shelter prior to a storm in an area not susceptible to flooding or coastal storm surge.
Loss of power and communications is often a byproduct of hurricanes. If the power was out, phone lines were down, and cell phones not working, how would you contact your staff? It is important to establish an emergency communication plan for your organization so that staff can communicate with management and with support groups, volunteers, or foster families in the affected area. Better to develop an alternate and contingency means of communication before the incident occurs. You may have hand held radios for your staff, a Citizens Band (CB) radio for your vehicles. Perhaps you have obtained your amateur radio license and invested in radio equipment that can provide for your emergency communication needs.
Foster parents should be instructed to determine out-of-town contacts in the event of an emergency evacuation. Case managers can then contact the foster parent through the out of town contact and insure that the child is safe and accounted for.
It is important to keep a printed copy of all your pertinent contacts such as doctors, children’s teachers, and family members. Many people forget to do this and only realize after their cell phone dies that they do not have any other means of looking up contact information. In the age of digital devices we often forget to keep a paper backup of our critical documents particularly a list of contacts.
During a crisis sending text messages is a better idea than voice calls. Texting does not tie up phone lines and digital text messages often go through easier if cell coverage is spotty. For child welfare agencies and organizations that work with at-risk youth a printed hard copy of staff contact information is essential and a list of all foster families that you work with. This list may be substantial in size but in the event of a power outage or internet blackout having a printed copy of critical contacts will be essential.
September is National Preparedness Month. To learn more about preparedness steps for hurricanes click here