Why Are Emergency Contacts So Important?

By nature, emergencies are unpredictable. On a daily basis, you could be late to pick up your child from school or daycare due to a run-on meeting or getting stuck in a traffic jam. Or you could be travelling for work and not available to support your elderly parent if something should occur in their care home. Or if something should happen to you while playing sports or at work, your spouse, family or close friend should be alerted to provide you with additional support.

In the case of a large scale disaster, there’s no telling what the conditions will be for your community, your family or for you personally. Roads could be blocked, bridges could be down, and overall damage could prevent you from reuniting with your loved ones for hours, or in some cases days.

Whether you are a parent submitting your emergency information for schools or daycares, a child providing contacts for a care home, or an adult sharing your personal information with your sports team or employer, ensuring you have emergency contacts is critical.

The below offers information on the different types of emergency contacts you should have, why each is so important, and things to consider when selecting those who will support you.

Alternate Guardians For Dependents: If you have kids or are responsible for the care of an elderly parent, having an alternate guardian is critical to supporting those who depend on you. An alternate guardian is someone who has agreed to act as an emergency contact for you and your dependent, providing them with support if you are not available.

The role of an alternate guardian can include:

  • Supporting your child. Your child’s school, daycare, sports team, club or camp will require an authorized emergency contact (alternate guardian), who will be called if you are not available and your child needs support because they are ill, injured or the organization’s facility is being evacuated.
  • Supporting your elderly parent. Your senior/dependent adults’ care facility or club will require someone to act on your behalf if you are not available, providing comfort and support if they are ill, injured, emotionally upset, disoriented, or their facility is being evacuated.
  • Acting on your behalf. Alternate guardians may need to act on your behalf, either picking up your dependent if they are released from the organization, making decisions if you cannot be reached re: medical treatment, or keeping your dependent at their home in a large scale disaster if you cannot reunite (e.g. an earthquake impacts travel and you cannot get to your dependent).

When choosing alternate guardians, it’s important to choose at least two contacts who are 19+ years of age and someone within walking distance of the organization if possible. This way you can rest assured someone will be nearby to quickly get to your dependent even if roads are impacted. Also be sure to include several alternate guardians as most organizations will not release your dependent to anyone not submitted as an authorized alternate guardian/emergency contact. Including as many alternates as possible is best practice to ensure your dependent will have support no matter what.

Your Emergency Contacts: If you play sports, go to a gym, travel or work outside your home, building a support network of emergency contacts is important in case you’re impacted by a personal, community-wide or large scale disaster. A spouse, key family members and friends should all be part of your support network, ensuring you have support when you need it the most, so they can:

  • Lend a helping hand. If you’re participating in an event and are injured, having an emergency contact to bring you spare clothes, pick you up, offer you food or drink if you’re waiting for test results, or simply make you laugh and hold your hand can positively impact your mental, emotional and even physical state.
  • Provide you with physical support. If you’re sick on the job, or injured at the gym and taken to hospital, having the help of an emergency contact makes a big difference. Whether it’s providing assistance during your recovery, or somewhere to stay if you need ongoing care, an emergency contact who can provide physical (and emotional) support is key.
  • Provide shelter if you need it. If your home is evacuated due to flooding, fire or another disaster, having a familiar place to stay is a huge help. Otherwise, you may have to find accommodation at a hotel or shelter, versus staying with someone who can also offer you emotional support.
  • Act on your behalf. If you’re injured or ill and are unable to communicate, having an emergency contact to receive information from doctors, and either act on your behalf making decisions on medical treatment, or reach out to those who can (e.g. your spouse, partner or parents) is critical.

Out of Area Contacts: In large scale natural disasters, local phone lines are often the first mode of communication to be unavailable, making it difficult to communicate with local loved ones. Previous disasters have proven long distance phone lines are more reliable than local, and internet/email is the most dependable way to connect. By sharing one out of area contact with friends and family, you can use this person as your hub of communication. This can be an aunt or uncle, cousin or friend shared with your local loved ones, so they can:.

  • Act as a check-in. Your out of area contact can keep track of everyone who was supposed to connect with them and monitor that everyone is ok in a crisis. As they receive updates, they can then relay the whereabouts and status of those who have checked in to you and your loved ones.
  • Be your information source: Often in a large scale crisis, people outside of the area can monitor media and key websites and receive updates faster than those who are impacted. Whether it be changes to evacuation plans, location of supplies, or options for shelter, your out of area contact can ensure you and all your loved ones have the latest critical information.

To easily build a support network of all your critical emergency contacts, sign up for a free ePACT family account today. You can then securely save all your emergency information online and invite friends and family  to act as your emergency contacts. In just a few minutes you can build your support network on ePACT, ensuring your relatives and friends will always have the information they need to support your family and know their role in an emergency.

Looking to build your support network or store your emergency information on ePACT? Sign up for an ePACT account below – it’s free for families!

Sign Up for ePACT

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