|BEING PREPARED - READ ONLINE|
Everyone should carry identification and contact information on them at all times. Most adults have their driver's license with them when they are out of the house, but this is not enough. Your driver's license doesn't have your phone number on it and your address won't be of any use if no one is home. Carry an emergency information card in your wallet with the names and numbers of your contact people and the other adults in your household.
Don't forget the kids. I am constantly amazed at how little personal information most kids carry. They don't need a driver's license but they do need ID. You may have had your kids fingerprinted, but that is only useful for identifying the body (something most of us don't want to think about). What would someone do if they found your eight year old lost at a theme park?† Worse yet, would the ER doctor know whom to call if there were a car accident when your child was riding with a friend?
Very young children love having a wallet or purse like the grown-ups. Put ID and contact information in it and send it with them. School-aged kids should have this information in their backpack, but don't forget to have them take their ID when they go to the mall or to baseball practice.
Every state will issue a picture ID for someone who does not have a driver's license. You get it at the driver's license bureau and it usually costs the same as a regular driver's license. My daughters were thrilled to get them when they were children and they are keepsakes now that they are grown. Since picture ID is now required to get on a plane or even to get into the movies, these will be very useful day to day. The kids may also have a picture ID for school. That is great. It should stay with their school stuff and the state ID can go in their wallet.
Every family should have a contact person for emergencies, preferably two, one local and one out of town. The out of town contact is for big emergencies like natural disasters or terrorist attacks. It is often easier to get a long distance connection than to call down the street when something is happening in your area. The person in another city or state can contact others who are worried about you, without tying up phone lines in the disaster area.
A contact should be someone who is reliable and usually easy to find. In our family it is a simple choice. The aunt in Austin is almost always at home and she has a cool head in an emergency. For a local contact, it is obviously going to be me, since I am the one wearing a beeper. Do you have a cousin who stays home with young children?† Is your best friend a supervisor at the plant so he can always be found?† Pick a contact and discuss it with that person. Then make sure that everyone in your family knows the plan and has the phone numbers with them.
If the adults in the family have business cards, use these for contact information. Add home phone numbers and cell phone numbers to the front of the cards if they aren't printed on the card. Put the information about other contacts on the back of the card. If you don't have business cards, cut an index card to the size of your ID card or driverís license and write the information on it.
Before disaster strikes, plan where your family will meet if anyone is not at home at the time of the disaster. If your evacuation plan is to go to a friend or relative, and you are only dealing with adults, then have everyone get themselves to the final location. If you have children in school or daycare, find out where they will be taken in an emergency and plan to gather the family there. If there is a shelter in your community that you may need, then agree that this is where you will go. Never stay behind to wait for someone to come home. You have a better chance of getting the family together if you go to a shelter or prearranged site than you do wandering around in a disaster zone.