Given the likelihood that many of us aren’t going to be home during an earthquake, part of your emergency planning should include how you can quickly and safely reunite with your family. If your kids are in school, we’ve put together some tips to help you reunite with them quickly and safely after an earthquake.
Have a Dedicated Meeting Space
This is useful for any emergency when your family is separated – it gives everyone a specific, accessible meeting place for you to meet following any disaster. This way you can connect with one another in person which is especially important if cellphones aren’t connecting or phone lines are down.
Be sure to update your meeting spot for different types of emergencies, in case certain locations work better for natural disasters compared to a home fire for example, and make sure that you review the details with the rest of your family, including your children.
Include directions on how to get to your designated meeting place from any of your popular locations – if your kids are old enough to make their way home or to your designated meeting spot, make sure they know how to do so from school or any after-school activities they might be involved in.
To help you choose your family’s meeting place, check out this great Neighbourhood Preparedness Guide from PreparedBC.
Make Sure the School Has Emergency Information
In an earthquake, schools may have students shelter in place after the shaking has stopped to make sure it’s safe for students to be picked up or to make their own way home. However, once it’s safe for everyone to leave, it’s equally important for staff to ensure that children are being picked up by their parents or authorized alternate guardians, or that students are allowed to make their own way home.
Make sure your children’s school(s) have all the right emergency contact information and that they know who is (and isn’t!) authorized to pick up your children in your absence. These forms might be a chore at the start of each year, but knowing that your children are safe in the event of an emergency makes it all worthwhile (Hint: ePACT can help make this process easier!).
Know How to Get Home Safely
If your children are old enough to make their own way home or to your meeting place, it’s important to stress the importance of waiting for school staff to tell them it’s safe to do so first. Once they get the go ahead, they should make their way home quickly but safely.
Educate your kids on the potential risk of gas leaks, download power lines, and fallen or broken debris, which may make roads impassable or unsafe for them to walk home. It might be an idea to plan alternate routes just in case it’s too dangerous for them to take the originally planned way home.
- If you see downed power lines, stay at least 10 meters away to avoid the risk of electric shock
- Be prepared for potential aftershocks – there is always a chance that these will occur, so always remember to stay safe and Drop, Cover, and Hold On if one happens once you’re on the way home
- Don’t climb on or around fallen debris from buildings, avoid damaged or abandoned vehicles, and avoid fallen trees in case they hide other dangers under broken branches
For overall earthquake preparedness tips, check out this comprehensive list from Atlantic Training.
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