The Disaster Communication Hub

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Does your family have a disaster communications hub?As you go about crafting your disaster response plans, consider adding a communication hub to the equation. The idea is to have a central person who family and friends can contact to keep abreast of developments and get messages to one another.

The person chosen to be a communication hub should live outside of your own immediate area. You want this person to be outside the area likely to be affected by “your” disaster. This way, there is someone who can easily send and receive calls and text messages, as well as surf the ‘Net and gather information about what is happening in your area.

In this day and age where just about everyone carries a cell phone strapped to their hip, it might seem unlikely that hitting number 3 on your speed dial won’t work. However, there are many possible reasons why family members may not be able to reach one another by phone or otherwise in the aftermath of a disaster.

It could be that cell signals are spotty at best.  Perhaps your son or daughter didn’t charge their phone last night and the battery is now dead. Whatever the reason for the inability to quickly reach them, we preppers should always plan for contingencies.

Why is a disaster communication hub worth the effort?

Having a designated communication hub provides a way for separated family members to communicate with one another, letting folks know they are okay and where they are located. This way, when Mom, frantic because she’s stuck in traffic outside the city and can’t reach her kids on their phones, Aunt Sally can let her know that Joey and Heather, using their school laptops, have both sent e-mails saying they are still at school and will stay there until Mom arrives.

Aunt Sally can also go online and update Mom on the latest information available about the disaster, such as authorities are closing off certain freeway exit ramps. This allows Mom to plan ahead and get off the freeway before reaching those exits, using surface streets to bypass the traffic snarls.

Meanwhile, Aunt Sally is also trying to reach Dad to let him know what is going on, letting Mom concentrate on just getting to the school without needing to be hitting redial over and over at the same time she’s negotiating what has suddenly become rush hour from Hell.

Talk to your extended family members or other loved ones about becoming your disaster communication hub. Be sure to reciprocate as well.

Hi-Tech Assistance

Smart phones aren’t called “smart” for no reason! There are multiple phone apps that can alert loved ones to your status. Red Cross’s disaster apps have a feature that, with a single click, can send an “I’m safe” message.

Similar apps to check out:

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Jim Cobb is a disaster preparedness consultant and author. His books include Prepper's Home Defense, The Prepper's Complete Book of Disaster Readiness, and Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide.

2 thoughts on “The Disaster Communication Hub”

  1. I am told by an ATT employee that often when cell towers are seemingly down and/or traffic overwhelms the system that text messages still often get through.

    So, we’ve incorporated a two-character code system for primarily two things; first is status and second is rally location.

    We have our map divided into quadrants. A = North and East, B = South and East, C = South and West, and D = North and West. Along the way, there are stops: 1 = first rally point, 2 = second rally point, etc. So D3 would be the third rally point on the Northwest quadrant, and would likely be a good distance away, which would signify a major event (e.g. Katrina-like scale).

    For status, a number indicates condition by number: 1 = no injuries, 2 = minor, and 3 = serious. We likely wouldn’t be able to report a “4” as being we are dead. Then it is followed by a letter to designate travel condition: A = ambulatory, B = bedridden (stationary), and T = traveling by transport (car, bike, boat, etc.).

    Finally, while the text should say who it is from, we still follow up with initials.

    So if Arthur Abercrombie sends B22AAA, that is rally at B2, minor injury and ambulatory/on foot, for Arthur.

    This is the same information that can be written on a piece of paper and left with others as a message along the way.

    Each bugout bag should have a map with locations outlined as well as a code card for this information.

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