HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?
If something happens and getting home as usual is not practical, having a plan to meet your family at an alternative location can be useful. This is useful for big emergencies and small ones.
There may come a time when, for some type of emergency or impracticality, you will need your family to meet with you somewhere other than home. It may happen when time is crucial or there is some form of a threat. Perhaps there is a forest fire in your city, or maybe some type of protest/rioting. It maybe something less cinematic, like you need to get to the emergency room due to some unknown pain or a minor accident. Maybe you just need to meet outside of the city before you head for that long road trip, and want to beat the traffic. It would not be practical to get home from work, get your family into one vehicle and then head out to a safer place.
A family meet up plan has been called many different things. All it is, is a plan on where you will meet up with your family or group. The situations that trigger the meet up can vary from casual to dramatic, but the benefits remain the same: planning ahead of any issues and getting together safely at a predetermined location that benefits you.
DEFINE YOUR RISKS
Consider your situation and make a short list of what risks apply to you. Do you have any known health issues (pregnancy or health issues that require getting to the ER)? Do you have flooding? Tornadoes? Identify what situations might come up where you might be forced to evacuate your home. Are there any industrial facilities in your area that pose some risks?
These will help you further understand the risks and what you need to plan for. (At one point we had a meet up plan when my wife was pregnant.) If you know the risks, then you can plan ahead of everyone else later on.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER IN SELECTING MEET UP PLACES:
Say you now have a list of threats you need to plan for, you can slowly plan around them and how you might react.
If you have a risk for flooding, then your plan must involve a place and route that is on higher ground and has a way in and out of the flooded area.
If you have some exposure to a chemical facility, then perhaps your meet up locations must be further away and not downwind of the threat. You will need to make your route away from the facility-which might be a concern if road access is limited. (When we were looking for a house, we excluded one because it was close to a chlorine plant and the main road was running by the plant).
Make sure your locations have a good cell signal. It might also be a good idea to locate any landline payphones if those are still available. Or, check if the area has wifi nearby-say in a store for example. These would offer some redundancy in communications and getting information.
Check how safe the area is. Sometimes you might be able to tell this by observing the area. You might also use a site like Spotcrime.com which logs local police reports so you can see any criminal activities in the area.
Does the place you have in mind offer multiple routes in and out of it? Typically there are two ways in and out. If you have a follow up plan to drive further after meeting up, say to continue driving to a family in the next city, does the meet up location have access to a highway? Be familiar with the area because the highway might be useless due to traffic. Have alternate routes out of there.
PICK MULTIPLE LOCATIONS, DEPENDING ON LEVEL OF THREAT
Depending on the urgency and type of emergency, different locations will be useful. If the incident is small, we might just meet at our favorite grocery store parking lot. If it is a bigger incident and we might want to keep driving after meeting up, we locate it in the direction we might be going (i.e. if you are heading East to a family in the next city then pick a spot there). If large disasters are a risk-like in my case tornadoes, then we could pick a place where we would have the option of extending the plan to have overnight accommodations in a hotel and are reasonably further away from that threat if it hits our home.
The instructions do not need exact addresses and do not need to be complicated because we already know these places. These are places we already frequent as part of our day to day activities. We are just picking which ones are ideal for meeting up depending on the situation.
CUSTOMIZE A PLAN THAT WILL WORK FOR YOUR FAMILY/GROUP
The plan must be easy to implement because we might not have a lot of time to rehearse or drill these. I might be lucky to get to test these out on the side while me and the whole family are running errands, but it is unlikely we can set aside a whole day to just drill them. So, I picked places already familiar to my wife and we can drive to without a map or gps, or without any separate practice runs.
I have a printed page of the location options we would go to and it is numbered from location 1 to location X. This printed instruction is located in a closet beside the garage door. We have bug out bags staged there which are broken up into easy labels based on function. One bag is for staying at a hotel, another is for a more flexible trip.
There are small variations to the plan. For example, if our son was in school, my wife would be in charge of that and then proceed to the meet up. If they are in the grocery, then they follow the instructions which would be in the glove box and proceed to the meet up.
The exact same set of instructions are printed and kept in each vehicle. It is also posted on the closet where we keep the bags we would take for the occasion.
As I type this post, I am also updating our meet up plan instructions. I am ashamed to admit it, but the last complete set of instructions I had was still based from when we lived in an apartment in NYC. A few years too old. Now to redeem myself a bit I did have a more up to date version, but it was just never as complete.
The updated one I am putting together is much shorter, much simpler and sounds less panicky. I guess the prior one had a lot of excess concerns which I did not really have to break out into detail. Those details would only confuse my wife in a possibly already stressful situation. She doesn’t need to know everything going on in my head as to why we were meeting at “X” and what the detailed dangers are. She would be inundated with info and might get burned out before I arrived. All the instructions have to say is meet at “X”, find a safe area close to a light pole for visibility and back into the parking spot so it is easy to leave. Done.
My current plan is almost just one page. There is an attached page which is my list of other things to bring. It is only attached so that anywhere the instructions are, my list is also available.
I hope this is useful for you and your family. This is a simple way of coordinating with your family if something bad happens and you need to meet up somewhere. It takes about 5 minutes to type out as long as you already had locations selected. Making it simple makes it easier to find the time to get it done and check it off your list. A lot of times I have these grand detailed plans in my head but I fail to execute because my family needs my time for something else. I have taken the approach of reducing my detailed plans so that they get done with less time but while keeping the benefits and efficiency of it. Plus if we picked places we already know about, I don’t have to give a very complex set of instructions. We can just agree to meet at our kids favorite drive thru and we are all set.
MakeResilient aims to help build a more resilient lifestyle and family. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current way of life (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future.