Dear coParenter community:
After what happened in Florida, we are running out of words to express our grief about these types of tragedies. And yet as coParents, we have unique things to consider when it comes to managing crises like this. Having a clear, well-articulated emergency plan with your coParent could be the difference between life and death.
On September 11, 2001, I was living a half-mile away when the first airplane hit the north side of the World Trade Center’s north tower. I watched out my window in horror as the plane exploded, taking with it thousands of unsuspecting citizens going about their usual Tuesday morning routine.
I didn’t have kids at the time. But my thoughts turned to PS 234 a Manhattan elementary school for over 600 students a few blocks away. I vividly remember thinking about how scary it was for these parents and their children. And as a child of divorce, I knew that this would be especially challenging for those parents that were separating, divorced or weren’t married. Now having been through a divorce as a parent, I empathize even more with the coParents who survived 911 and all of those who have endured the many tragedies that have come after. And I especially think about the coParents who don’t get along. I know how difficult it is to get through horrific situations when tensions between coParents run high. Trying to coordinate and manage child-related matters, make decisions and communicate is hard as it is, but can be excruciatingly difficult in situations of crisis and chaos.
That’s why- no matter what your relationship is like- it’s critical that you and your coParent have a plan. You can use coParenter to work with your coParent to create and document an Emergency Plan. Through the app, you can access a live, on-demand coParenting professional who can help you make agreements, resolve disputes and draft this emergency plan, so you don’t have to do it on your own. And you can do it all from your phone. On your time.
Whether you use coParenter or discuss it over coffee, here are some of the things you’ll want to consider:
1. Household Information: An emergency can happen at any time, so be sure to discuss who can pick your children up from school or another location if you’re not able to. Also, make sure any members of your coParenting team are signed up for emergency alerts from local governments. To find out more see this link provided by FEMA. Be sure that children without phones know how to follow instructions from a teacher, principal, or another caregiver.
2. Out-of-town contact: FEMA recommends that you identify someone outside of your city who can “act as a central point of contact to help you household reconnect.” In a disaster, it’s often easier to make long-distance phone calls because local phone lines can be tied up.
3. Emergency Meeting Places: Identify several places where your loved ones can go for protection or to reunite. Consider your pets too, where would they be welcome as well? FEMA recommends choosing the following types of locations: 1. Indoor: where in your home is a safe place to take shelter?); 2. In your neighborhood: this is outside your home in case of fire, for example), 3. Outside of your neighborhood: this is a place where your family can take shelter such as a library, community center, church, or friend’s house. 4. Outside of your town: If you’re forced to evacuate your area, you’ll need a place to reunite. This could be a family friend or relative’s home.
4. Share! Make sure everyone has the information. It’s important to communicate your plan with your coParent and your kids so everyone’s on the same page.
I consider myself an amazingly positive person with a bright outlook on life. But this is America, and there will be another school shooting. There will be another terrorist attack. And there will likely be a natural disaster in our lifetime. To think- and to behave- otherwise would be irresponsible. We all need a plan.
It is up to us to put our differences aside- whatever they may be- and remember how precious life and our children are. We hope you will never have to use it, but please take the time to design an emergency plan so you- and your family- are always prepared.
Yours in coParenting,