National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Assignment: Create a Family Communications Plan

(Instructions for Activity Leader)

As part of your lesson on safety and preparedness, the students should work with their family to create a Family Communications Plan. Prior to creating the plan with their family, the instructor should lead the students through discussions about the importance of a Family Communications Plan and the parts of the plan. Specifically, the different contacts they should identify, where to keep the information, and how to utilize the plan if needed.  

The Family Communications Plan consists of two major parts:

  1. Know Your Numbers: Memorize your home and parents’ cell numbers and fill out the “Know Your Numbers” contact cards and store them in a safe place that is always with you (i.e. wallet, backpack, purse, etc).
  2. Know Where to Go and How to Get There:
    a. Pick a Family Meeting Spot.
    b. Draw a Map of the Family Meeting Spot.

    c. Know the Exits.

To get credit for completing this assignment, students must do the following:
  1. Complete both the “Know Your Numbers” and “Know Where to Go and How to Get There” portions of the communications plan from

    a.  The worksheets from are available to be printed here: Printable Family Communications Plan. However, if you would like to save on printing        costs, students can be directed to the online, fillable worksheet that is linked on the assignment sheet.

  2. Hold a practice drill at home.  Contact the names on your plan and practice meeting at one of your meeting locations.
  3. Have your Parent/Guardian sign the bottom of the completed plan.  This signature will indicate the family completed the drill at home.
  4. Answer the questions at the bottom of the worksheet.
  5. Show a copy of the completed plan and turn in answered questions to the instructor.

Recommended Information to Include in the Family Communications Plan and templates for contact cards and maps visit the following website


Know Your Numbers: Create family contact cards.

  • Home Number
  • Parent Name
    • Cell Number
    • Work Number
  • Parent Name
    • Cell Number
    • Work Number
  • My Cell Number (student’s own phone if he or she has one)
  • Sibling Name
    • Cell Number
  • Sibling Name
    • Cell Number


  • Trusted Adult Name
    • Home Number
    • Cell Number
  • Neighbor Name
    • Home Number
    • Cell Number
  • Out of State Relative/Friend Name
    • Home Number
    • Cell Number

Know Where to Go and How to Get There:

  • Pick a Family Meeting Spot both in your neighborhood and outside of your neighborhood.
  • Draw a map of your home and both meeting spots.
  • Know how to exit your home without going out the door.  Encourage the children to draw a floor plan of their home and identify multiple ways out of their home.
Discussion with the students of the importance of a Family Communications Plan should highlight the following points:
  • Your family may not be together when disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance.  Always have family discussions about how you will handle an emergency before the emergency happens.  Some items to discuss are how will you get back together if you are not in the same location; what will you do in different situations; and how will you get to a safe place.
  • Discussions with your family should also include emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare, school, faith organizations, sports events, and commuting.
  • Make sure every family member has a contact card complete and handy in their purse, wallet, backpack, briefcase, etc.
  • Text Don’t Talk.  Discuss with the students the importance and effectiveness of texting rather than calling.  Unless you are in immediate danger, send a text message.  Text messages often have an easier time getting through during emergencies and if there is an emergency you do not want to tie up the phone lines needed by emergency responders (like 911).   If family members do not know how to use text messaging, teach them.
  • If a family member does not have a cell phone, make sure they have coins and/or a prepaid phone card (and how to use it) to call the emergency contact.
  • If you have a cell phone, program “In Case of Emergency” contact information into your phone. Available on most cell phone devices, "In Case of Emergency" and allows a person to create an accessible profile of emergency contacts. If set up properly, this function allows emergency responders or bystanders to contact loved ones immediately upon finding a person in distress, even if the phone is locked.
Questions that you should discuss with the group after creating your Family Communications Plan.
Talking points are provided for some, though most questions are to spark conversation.
  1. Who should have Family Communications Contact Cards? Why? Where should they be kept?
    • Every member of the family should have a contact card.
    • Every family member should have a contact card because it will let them know how to get a hold of each other in case of emergency and all of the phone numbers are in one safe location.
    • It is good to discuss the different places the cards can be kept and also mention to keep one in plain sight (refrigerator, bulletin board, family calendar, etc.).
  2. How often should you review and update the information on your contact cards?
    • It is important for the students to understand that numbers change and the contact information needs to be reviewed periodically.
  3. Would it be useful for family/friends/relatives/neighbors to have a copy of your Family Communications Plan?  Why?
    • This question should spark discussion regarding the importance of communication not just within the family, but outside of the family so that others are aware of your plan and can help you in case of an emergency.
  4. Why would it be important to have an out of town contact on your list?  Why might that person be a good person for the family to check in with?
    • Discuss that emergencies/hazards/disasters can be local or regional.
    • Ask the students of examples from the news or history of disasters which affected their area or region.  Have the students role play and give examples as to how they would implement their plan under different disasters.
  5. Why do you need two or more ways out of every room in your house?
    • Discuss that sometimes your standard way of exiting might not be available due to trees down, flooding, snow drifts, etc.