The purpose of this blog post is to provide my sixth installment in the disaster preparedness series, determining the right individuals for your emergency point of contact lists, and assigning a Personal Public Information Officer (PPIO). 

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” – Ronald Reagan

It is not uncommon when the topic of disaster preparedness comes up to receive two physical reactions: either a deep, heavy sigh, or, a very dramatic eye roll.  Is there any prediction you will absolutely encounter a natural disaster, no.  But, is there a strong likelihood, yes.  I, for one would rather be prepared.  And, most people will admit AFTER a disaster, that they wish they had been better prepared.  So, let’s do this! Let’s talk about the uncomfortable, and plan. 

Pull up a chair and let’s discuss – Emergency Points of Contact(s)

This topic applies to all populations that include children, vulnerable, and elderly family members. 

How do you choose who to place on the emergency point of contact form? 

Be careful!  It is not uncommon to choose someone like a family member, or best friend.  The questions to ask yourself are the following:

During a disaster will this individual have the ability to assist me with my child, vulnerable, or elderly family member? 

Will they have the ability to come to my family’s need after a disaster? 

Keep in mind, after the disaster, any reputable organization will implement their disaster plan.  Which means, they will follow protocol in regards to the emergency contact lists.  What does this mean?  It means that if the individual you need to collect your family member is not on the emergency contact list, the individual will not be able to collect your child, vulnerable, or elderly family member. 

Assuming you can call the front desk and request a different individual to pick up your child, vulnerable or elderly family member is highly unlikely.  Let’s be honest, after the disaster it is too late to call the front desk to request a change to the emergency form.  Phone lines may be down.  Also, the front office will be flooded with calls of individuals requesting to do the same. 

Most organizations require at least two if not three individuals on an emergency contact form.  Make sure each assigned emergency contact individual is knowledge on any medications and or allergies the child, vulnerable, or elderly family member is taking. 

Will they have access to the family member’s specific medication?

Will the selected individual know how to retrieve the family member’s medication?

Creating your own Personal Public Information Officer (PPIO)

Imagine for a moment, after the natural disaster occurs, you still have online access, and it begins…your phone begins to vibrate incessantly with family and friends wanting/needing to know if you and your loved ones are safe.  Now, imagine for a moment, after a natural disaster strikes, that you have the control to call one person that you have assigned to be your PPIO, to inform your family and friends how you and your immediate family are doing.  Establishing some order after the disaster sounds much more inviting.  Just because the natural disaster may be over, the chaos will continue, which brings its own set of anxiety and stress. 

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT:  Make sure you communicate to all family/friends who your PPIO is.  It is vital all family/friends understand they need to follow the protocol you have created. 

Why is it important to assign one person as your PPIO?

Who do I select as my PPIO?

My recommendation is to select an individual based on the following criteria:

What does my PPIO need to know?

This individual must understand the criticality of their role.  You will need to supply them with specific detail on who to include.  In most cases, they will have the ability to create an e-mail with all parties involved.  Your PPIO will need to have a contact list that includes names, relation, e-mail, and cell phone information.  In some cases, creating group texts will work very well. 

Although these conversations are hard to think about, creating a plan now will leave you the ability to handle the AFTER with confidence, and complete physical presence your immediate family will desperately need from you. 

Recently, I was the featured guest with the National Association of Organizing professionals and Productivity specialists (NAPO) Stand Out podcast, Episode #41: How to prepare for disasters with Lisa Witzleben.  Listen and learn more here.

“Asking for help isn’t weak, it’s a great example of how to take care of yourself.” – Charlie Brown.

You CAN do this!! Unclutter Me is here to assist you. 

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