Do you have a hurricane communications plan?

By Max Mayfield - Hurricane Specialist
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MIAMI - One of the essential components of any family hurricane plan is a means to communicate with one another if normal means of communications are knocked out. In my case, my wife and I live in Miami and our three children live elsewhere. We have a designated out of town emergency contact and each member of our family has our contact's name, home and cellphone numbers, email address and home address. If my family members can't contact each other directly through normal means for whatever reason, we will do everything that we can communicate our status to our emergency contact.

READ: Local 10 Hurricane Survival Guide

Local 10 has backup power and we will do everything possible to remain on-air. But you need to think about how you will receive the emergency information that is broadcast if you should lose power at your home. A battery operated digital TV with a car charger adapter is one option. Local 10 will also simulcast on three radio stations: Majic 102.7, 101.5 Lite FM, and 790 AM. I highly recommend a battery powered NOAA Weather Radio (that can also receive other FM and AM stations) with extra batteries and/or a hand-crank radio.

Most of us have become so accustomed to communicating with our cellphones that we can't imagine not being able to do so. A car charger for your cellphone is a good idea. Sometimes text messages and emails will work from a cellphone even if cell calls can't be made. A corded phone is still a good backup and can sometimes work even when the cellphone system is inoperative. 

My wife and I are also part of an informal group in our neighborhood that plans on using battery powered two-way radios if power, landline telephone and cell towers all fail. That will ensure that my wife can at least communicate with some neighbors if I'm at work and all other communication systems are inoperable.

A tremendous amount of stress can be avoided by simply knowing the location and status of family members after a hurricane, or any disaster for that matter. Miami-Dade County's Department of Emergency Management plans on providing a new Unification Tool for Emergencies (UNITE) website after the disaster. If you have been affected by a disaster, and assuming internet connectively is restored, UNITE is an online system that provides a way for you to register yourself and leave a message for your family and friends, letting them know of your well-being. Concerned family and friends can search the list of those who have registered in UNITE. By answering a few security questions set by the registrant, family and friends can successfully locate their loved one.  The results of a successful search will display a loved one's name and message. This sounds like a great tool. Let us hope we don't have to use it anytime soon.

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