With all the changes occurring in your family as you go through a divorce, updating your emergency preparedness plan likely isn’t one of your top concerns. However, it’s important to have a new plan that involves both your and your co-parent – and possibly other family members on both sides.
If you have always been the one to refresh the go-bags, change the batteries in all the flashlights and update the emergency contact list, you may need to take on the bulk of the responsibility at first. Remember that you’re doing it for your kids. If you fear your co-parent won’t keep up their end of the bargain at their home, you may need to continue to help them.
Everyone’s family has different needs. However, there are a few things that all divorced co-parents should do to be prepared when a storm, fire or other emergency hits.
Keep go-bags and contact lists in both homes
You don’t know which parent your kids will be with when a disaster strikes. Even if one of you is a “weekend parent,” you need a go-bag for each child (or one with enough supplies for all of you) in each home. Don’t forget one for your pets.
You should always have a paper list of emergency contact information. You can’t guarantee that your phone or WiFi will work in an emergency. That list might have to include in-laws with whom you’re barely on speaking terms.
Make sure the school has both parents’ contact information
Disasters and other emergency situations can occur while kids are in school or daycare. Make sure these places have both parents’ contact information. Even if one parent lives far away, the school should be able to contact them if they can’t reach the other parent.
Communicate (no matter what)
There are times when you have to let grudges go. Commit to communicating with each other regardless of whose day or week it is to have the kids. At least check in with each other to confirm that everyone is safe and decide on a reunification spot if you can’t yet return home.
If you’re concerned that your co-parent won’t be as committed to doing these things as you, you may want to include a section in your parenting plan regarding communication during emergency situations. With legal guidance, you can help ensure that your family is as prepared as possible.