How families should prepare for an emergency at home or away

Apr 22, 2022, 9:25 AM | Updated: Jun 21, 2022, 9:23 am
emergency kits are a vital part of preparedness for families...
Sione Palauni, right, delivers bags of food to Rachel Calvin, center, outside of the Liberty Community Learning Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 20, 2020. Surrounding Calvin, from the left, are Kalista Watson, Kason Calvin, Jaxlyn Calvin, Keiana Calvin and Kamden Calvin. The Salt Lake Education Foundation and community partners are providing emergency food and hygiene kits to Salt Lake City school district families. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)
(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — If disaster strikes, do you have an emergency plan in place for reuniting with family members? Two experts share their insights and advice on planning before the next emergency.

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Magna on March 18, 2020, reminded Utahns to expect the unexpected but not just when the ground shakes violently, but also in wind storms, fires, and flash flooding.

Keep contact info up to date for an emergency

Granite School District Spokesman Bem Horsley shared some advice with KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Dujanovic for parents.

Before traveling to schools to pick up their children when an emergency strikes: Remember to bring your ID with you and update your emergency contact information.

“If I’m a mom in this situation. and I’m frantic, and I live close to school. . . If I ran across the street barefoot with no ID and said ‘Give me my kid,’ you would say what?” Debbie Dujanvoci asked.

“We’d say, ‘Hey, your kid is safe here right now, but we cannot release your child to you without identification,” Horsley said.

Dujanovic also said her phone number had changed. The school would have no way to reach her in an emergency because she hadn’t updated her contact information with the school.

“You wouldn’t believe in an emergency protocol, like a shelter in place — that’s just precautionary — how many families reach out and say, ‘I didn’t get the notification’ and then we check and we see that their phone number is out of date,” Horsley said.

The last piece of advice Horsley has for parents is to be patient with school officials dealing with an emergency.

“Our processes are designed to help keep kids safe. And so just know that your child is safe. We’re working through that reunification process as quickly as we can,” he said.

Don’t flee your home in an earthquake

Heidi Ruster with the Red Cross advises parents to have a conversation with their children to discuss where to gather in the event of an emergency.

“It’s just important you have that conversation and you know where you go if you’re totally separated or where you go if you have to leave the house,” Ruster said.

But don’t leave your house during an earthquake, she added. “You want to get under something and hold on.”


Ruster also recommended establishing an out-of-town relative or friend who can serve as a contact person in case of emergency. She also said the Red Cross has an app available for you to let loved ones know you’re safe.

For more information or tips, visit the Be Ready Utah website.

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Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. 



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How families should prepare for an emergency at home or away