Family Communication Basics
Make sure that you have reviewed your emergency plans with your family and everyone understands what they are suppose to do. Whenever possible, do a dry run of your entire plan at least a couple of times per year to reinforce it. Be sure to include Cell phones, walkie talkies, a radio-preferably one that operates on a crank (without batteries), a GPS unit and if feasible-a Satellite phone in your plans.
The plan should also include distress codes and safe location designation spots. Distress codes can be can be used in the event of an emergency or crisis. These can be as simple or as complex as you make them.
By using simple words or phrases you can signify various alerts to family members or friends. Interjecting a pre-conceived and planned question or statement with a correct response and/or answer amidst the phone call such as “How is the weather there? Answer: “blue skies”, gives the caller a general status on the happenings wherever you are.
Then you may add other question and answers or even simple words that can be used in the midst of conversation, which have specific meaning as per your family preparedness plan. Words or even names can be anything you have pre-planned and you can associate anything with them. For example by using the word “doghouse” may mean trouble for the family member that used that phrase. All immediate family members should know these codes.
If you have kids, you can make it fun for them to learn the codes like a game. Rehearse with them varying the game on a regular basis. For kids, use code words that “fit” for their age and level of understanding.
Now we also said that distress codes could be more complex, meaning they could actually be descriptive in revealing the nature of the crisis or even give hints as to the whereabouts of an individual, or tell a family member where to meet you. This all depends on the type of lifestyle you live and how important security is to you and your family. You could develop simple phrases for any number of situations from home invasions and kidnapping to emergency evacuations. In addition you can use code words and phrases to designate a pre-determined central meeting place for the family or group. This word or phrase that tells the individual exactly where to go is known as an SLD or Safe Location Designator.
In planning for Family Safety Management (FSM), it is always a good idea to make up a series of 2-3 SLD locations (again depending how security conscious you are) in which all immediate family members know. In the event of emergency, members would either automatically gather at that one location or via a communicate from another family member, will be instructed by verbal command or code to get to a particular locale.
Family communication and planning would not be complete without referencing non-verbal communication. Things like hand signals and signs may be important in situations where noise discipline is required. Something as simple as scratching your hand or chest could indicate danger, whereas turning a ball cap with the bill on backwards could indicate that it is safe to move about. Develop your own family signals and signs and keep it simple.