Emergency meeting spots are crucial to surviving a disaster, an unfortunate event, or simply getting lost in a crowded place. It is the spot or point that every member of your family can easily access and rally towards in the wake of unforeseen circumstances.

Establishing an emergency meeting spot eliminates worry over your friends and family when something disastrous happens. This spot will improves your chances of finding every member of your group.

However, establishing an emergency spot goes beyond merely naming a particular rendezvous point. You will have to educate your family on the effective ways to respond psychologically and the fastest pathway to this spot.

Why Designate an Emergency Meeting Destination?

In the event of a disaster, your family members may be separated or at different locations. Depending on the nature of the event, a well-structured plan that takes a secure meeting spot into account will shorten the separation time. When everyone meets at the rendezvous point, your numbers go up and during a survival scenario, the number of people in your group could come in handy.

Naturally, when a tragic event hits, your first reaction should be to secure the safety of your family. However, going out in search of your family amidst the chaos could be dangerous or end in you getting lost yourself. Ultimately this won’t be necessary if you have a designated emergency spot. With a well-structured plan, everyone in your family can be calm during crises or disasters as they make their way towards the desired location.

The knowledge of knowing how to respond, where to go, and how to reach your loved ones would lead to a significant reduction in panic.

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Occurrences that Warrant a Meeting Spot

Not every occurrence warrants or requires the use of the meeting spot. However, it is always better to have a meeting spot and not need it than to not have one and need it.

Shelter In-Place/ In-home Defense

Even when sheltering in-place or when enacting in-home defense plans, it is imperative that everyone knows where they should go in case of emergency. The best approach here is to prepare for the kinds of disasters your region and neighborhood may be susceptible to.

Quick responses to natural disasters like tornados or hurricanes where migrating to strong enclosed areas of your home such as basements, bathrooms, or closets (typically any small, interior, and windowless rooms) is imperative. If you have a basement or storm cellar those would be the ideal meeting place during a storm. However, if you do not have safe spots like these the family should know where to go. Maybe mom and son go to the hall closet and dad and daughter go to the master bath. Knowing which parent should watch which kid, and where each pair should go is important.

If you live in a rough neighborhood, in-home defense should be considered, like how to act in the event of an intruder. Survival techniques against an intruder should be discussed and well understood by the members of your family, especially the children. If there is one thing shows and movies have taught us it’s; kids should have a designated place to hide that is secure, not just ‘under their bed’. A memorable cinematic instance is from Criminal Minds where Agent Hotchner was able to tell his 4-year-old son to ‘work the case’, directing Jack to go upstairs and hide in a hidden storage bench to avoid the same fate as his mother. While the kids are hiding the adults of the family should have a designated home intruder survival plan, following it as close as possible.

Home Disaster Evacuation

In this case, unforeseen disasters such as a gas leak, house fire, or an earthquake that make staying inside more dangerous than if you were to get out quick, may demand immediate evacuation from your home. In these instances, it is ideal for your family to have an agreed upon outdoor meeting spot.

For quick home evacuations, where just getting to across the street could save your life, pick a meeting spot like the light post down the street or your neighbors mailbox. If the disaster happens when no one is home, you can have a central location like a library or shopping mall where everyone can meet up to discuss what to do next.

Visiting Large/Crowded Public Areas

When you go to a public event, a shopping mall, or a crowded public area, children may get lost due to their curiosity and the busyness of the environment. Therefore, once you get to this crowded public area or amusement park, a wise move will be for everyone to agree on a general emergency meeting spot.

This approach ensures there is a safety zone in case anyone gets lost. It is common for children to get lost in large public places or for a member of the group to wander off. When deciding on the meeting spot consider who is in your group. If children are involved pick a memorable place for them like a store with a lot of lights or colors. If it’s a group of adults some place more central may make sense, like a water fountain or a certain place in the food court.

Major Disaster Evacuations

Your family should have a meeting point in the event of major disasters (such as a hurricane, mudslides, tornados, wildfires, etc.) that often require everyone to leave the town or city. For instance, this meeting point can be an out-of-town relative’s home. Everyone in your family should be familiar with the address, so no one gets lost in the process of finding the rendezvous point.

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Types of Meeting Spots

There are different types of meeting spots depending on where you find yourself.

Safe Space (inside your home)

Every family should have a safe place in their home where everyone can gravitate to in times of emergencies. This space should be communicated with every member of the family well beforehand. Depending on the reason needed; interior rooms without windows, the basement, or even a hidden cabinet would all be good safe spaces in your home.

Immediately Outside Your Home

When a disaster or unforeseen circumstance like a fire breaks out in your home, you can choose an emergency spot like the end of the driveway or a neighbor's home as the muster point. In this situation, your life and the life of your loved ones is priority. The goal should be getting everyone out quick, alive, and with as minimal damage as possible.

Outside Your Neighborhood

If you find yourself outside your neighborhood when a disaster strikes, your family members can move to an agreed emergency point. This point can be the nearest shopping mall, park, or recreation center around your neighborhood.

Structure in Public Space

In a public space, getting lost is quite common especially with children. One way to counteract this is to pick a popular store in the mall or a prominent landmark within this public space as an emergency spot if lost. If the child is lost, they can swiftly locate this landmark and wait for a family member there.

Long Distance

In an event when your town is no longer considered safe, your family should agree on one safety spot for such emergencies. For example, if your parents or a cousin lives out-of-town, their home can be used as the emergency spot.

Furthermore, if you have a family home out of town, like a vacation home, using it as a safety nest during emergencies would be a great idea. As a matter of grave importance, whatever address you choose everyone in the family should know the address by heart. Knowing how to get there without navigation would be a bonus.

The effectiveness of an emergency spot lies in the proper education of everyone in the home. During the course of any disaster, every family member should know the expected safety spot to move towards.

How to Pick Your Emergency Meeting Spot

One primary factor to consider when choosing an emergency meeting spot is accessibility. Any meeting spot is useless if it cannot be easily accessed when push comes to shove. Secondly, consider the children. Kids have a harder time remaining cool during an emergency which can cause them to forget something like an emergency meeting spot. However, if you choose someplace or something that is bright, fun, and sticks out from the crowd, they may have an easier time remembering.

Additionally, consider the safety measures in the place you intend to choose. How safe and secure the location is should weigh in on your decision of picking this spot for emergencies. For example, if you live in a dangerous neighborhood, choosing the crazy neighbors house may not be the best. You may want to stick closer to the home, like the mailbox.

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Ensure Each Member Knows the Plan(s)

We all know what they say about ‘assuming’. Far too often, plans are made without proper inclusion of everyone involved to make the plan work. Some will get the plan almost immediately, but for others, it may take a good conversation and even a few dry runs to get it down. Here are some ways to help ensure your whole group knows the plan.

Share Copies of Your Emergency Communication Plans

For those that learn by reading, begin by making hard copies of the potential contact list and addresses for each unique emergency, highlighting the meeting spots. Then, you can share a copy of this list with everyone in your family. Lastly, you should share a copy of the list with a family member or friend who does not live in your area as a backup.

Practice Your Plans

As a prepper, we go through all these scenarios in our head, but when it comes to exit strategies and meeting spots, a drill may be in need. Visiting the (local) locations in person and designating a meeting spot to be used each time you visit will go a long way with embedding the location in everyone’s mine. You can go one step further by running a mock-drill by going your separate ways for a bit and then meeting back up at your spot. Setting up these emergency drills will also improve muscle memory and make your planned response seamless when you need it.

You can also advise your family members to memorize each other's phone numbers and choose an adequate communication pathway during a disaster. This pathway can either be by text or phone calls.

Review Your Plans

People tend to forget protocols and details of plans over time, especially when the need to implement them does not surface often. Reviewing your emergency safety plans with your family once or twice a year will keep the plans fresh in their minds. If any information changes over time, be sure to inform every one of the updates.