As an emergency manager in both federal and state emergency operation centers and a member of FEMA’s Incident Command staff, Richard Marshall has seen his fair share of national disasters.
One of the things he’s said is the most heartbreaking thing he sees in a crisis is when families are torn apart and have no way to communicate with each other.
Imagine the world crumbling around you and you don’t know if your spouse or kids are safe. It can be terrifying.
Richard built a whole “family communications” protocol into his “Alive After Crisis” survival system, and here are seven survival communication strategies your neighbors don’t know.
1. Pre-Designated Rally Points
Set up a primary and a secondary rally point to pull your family together in case you’re split up when a crisis happens.
The primary will most likely be your house, but consider an easily accessible alternative where you can join back together that’s NOT near your home (in the case of a fire, natural disaster, etc.).
Don’t use rally points that are near grocery stores, highways or other areas that will potentially be scenes of mass chaos.
2. Have Two Out-of-State Points of Contact
Consider relatives or family friends that don’t live in your state.
Let them know ahead of time that you’ll use them as a central contact to let them know you’re OK, so they can pass on the word as you’re responding to the crisis (instead of having to call everyone one by one).
Also, get their agreement that they can act as safe havens if you and your family need to bug out of your area.
3. Distribute All Contact Information
Create multiple copies of all family members’ and close friends’ contact information and distribute these copies to everyone on the list.
Richard has seen families on different sides of town unable to make contact with each other because they couldn’t remember the number and they didn’t have the contact list securely on them.
That is one of the stupidest and most avoidable mistakes you can make in an emergency.
4. Think Outside the “Contact Box”
Consider the people that your family is most in contact with and think of them as alternative points of contact if you can’t reach your loved one when an event happens.
For example, if you’re a parent, you should have your kids’ school/day care contact info on you, including teachers’ cellphone numbers if they agree to share them with you.
5. Two-Way Radios
Depending on the distance you and your family may be separated by during normal daily activities, long-range walkie-talkies could be a great option for your everyday carry bags or emergency car kits.
Be sure to test the range (like with your kids at school and you at home) because the range listed on the packaging is always under ideal, flat-terrain conditions and may not be accurate to your area.
6. Sideband Radio
For long-term disaster preparations, Richard recommends getting a radio, but while many experts will tell you to use a ham radio, he’s not a huge fan.
Operating a ham radio requires a license… the operation is heavily regulated by the FCC… and tabs are kept on everyone who has one.
Instead, Richard recommends opting for a sideband radio (also called citizens band radio or a CB) with a good antenna and amplifier, and learn the ropes before you attempt to make your first contact.
The other good thing about these is that since truckers use them, you can get great up-to-date info on traffic jam locations and alternate routes in the case of a mass evacuation.
7. Text Messaging
Richard’s last major piece of advice regarding communicating in an emergency is this: Do not use the phone to call — send an SMS text message instead.
The phone systems (if they are still operable) will be overloaded in a crisis due to everyone jamming the airways at the same time.
You’ll have a much better chance of getting through to a loved one via text message.
Advanced Survival Communication Tactics
These strategies can really help you cover the basics of protecting your family during a disaster and getting everyone together.
But you simply can’t prepare enough for this critical factor of getting everyone together.
The last thing you want is for your entire family to be fumbling around in a disaster area trying to reach each other when what you need to be doing is coming together and making it to safety as a single unit.
Not only will this save you a lot of stress and worry… it could literally save your lives as you avoid getting trapped in the chaos that everyone else will be stuck in because they didn’t prepare.
Richard’s survival program covers more advanced ways of communicating with family members as well as other tactics that only someone with over 15 years of boots-on-the-ground disaster experience can give you with his work with FEMA and as an emergency manager.
I highly suggest you check out his survival program now and tap into his experience and expertise.
[Editor’s note: Jason here. Living on an island makes it difficult to bug out. If you live on the mainland, you have decidedly more options. That being said, you must have your bug-out bags packed and ready in order to evacuate quickly ahead of an oncoming storm. To that end, our friends at Modern Combat & Survival have you covered. Check out this amazing risk-free offer for their Extreme Bug-Out Bag (XBOB) System. Because when the going gets tough, you’ve got to GET GOING.]