As the 90-mile per hour winds of Hurricane Sandy dissipated over northern Canada, the true extent of the devastation was heartbreaking to see and to learn about. As a father and husband and also a specialist in emergency preparedness planning, it was painful to hear about the consequences of enormous decisions that individuals and parents found themselves having to make under life-threatening circumstances.

  • Loved ones in harm’s way unable to communicate with one another via cellphone as the hurricane approached.
  • Parents with very young children in a car confronted with rapidly rising water and the need to make critical decisions with only minutes to spare.
  • Families that stayed behind when their neighbors left – and paid the ultimate price.

I spend several hundred hours every year helping families – and, in different ways, corporations – prevent these terrible situations by preparing in advance.  We work very closely with senior executives and affluent families to anticipate crises – such as a weather event like Sandy, a travel- related incident, stalking and domestic violence, home intrusion or a medical family emergency for a family member – and put planning in place ahead of time in order mitigate risks and save lives. We talk about establishing an off-site relocation point or an on-site “safe room.”  Setting a universal “call in” number. Placing GPS devices in luggage. Securing shelter-in-place and emergency medical capabilities.  And installing duress alarms in strategic locations, among many other strategies and tactics.  Every family is different. Every environment carries a different set of risks.  Every executive or individual makes different choices with respect to the key planning drivers: convenience, probability, cost and risk. The best way to capture all this planning for so many different potential scenarios is to develop a Family Emergency Plan.  That’s the lesson I hope many families draw from Hurricane Sandy.

For me, that’s the silver lining in this hurricane’s clouds.  Whether you reach out for assistance or do it yourself, your life and the right to live it in peace and security is unpredictable.  Be prepared.
This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or advice.
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