Regardless of your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the most important element is to remain calm and NOT panic.
One recurring theme throughout disasters is the fact many people could become separted from loved ones. An important decision might very well be whether you should stay where you are or evacuate. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and available information, including what you are learning here, to determine if there is an immediate danger. In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should stay tuned to your local media, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for information or official instruction as it becomes available. You should discuss with your family a primary and secondary (or even tertiary) place to rendezvous together. This should also be applied for household emergencies like a fire – determine a specific location or 2 and educate everyone of these points to evacuate to should the home catch fire.
Your plan should identify an out-of town contact. It may be easier to call or text long-distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. This person could also serve as a “rally point” for your family/loved ones should separation from each other become more extended. Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has ability to call the emergency contact.
Ensure that you and your loved ones communicate about local and/or personal emergencies as well. Program a designated person as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your “ICE” listings in order to contact someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts. For example, you could have multiple: ICE Mom, ICE Dad, ICE Sister, ICE Mary, etc. Or even go as far as to have “ICE Out of town” to highlight your out of town emergency contact.
You should also inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school, faith organizations, sports events and commuting. You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance.
Teach family members how to use text messaging (also known as SMS or Short Message Service). Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
Subscribe to Loyola’s emergency notification system. It is critical for everyone to subscribe to this, as it is our direct link to informing you as a member of the Loyola community. In addition, many communities, New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, etc now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. For New Orleans, please visit ready.nola.gov.