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What would you do if there was an emergency and the kids were with their other parent?

Posted by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 10:00 AM
  • 20 Replies

I originally meant to talk about this topic earlier this week, but was too busy to post anything. It wasn’t supposed to be in reference to 9/11 (actually it was Syria and our local weather that made me think of the topic).



Two years ago, a massive tornado devastated our town. DH had SS at the time (it hit about two hours before the switch), and was living one block in the ‘zone’. Although DH’s home came through unscathed, there were houses just blocks away that were completely demolished. It was a massive panic.


Luckily DH was able to immediately text BM telling her that SS was safe, but it didn’t take long before all communication was shut down. A quarantine was quickly set up around the ‘zone’ (which included DH’s street) and nobody was allowed to enter unless they had an ID with their address (ie : BM wasn’t able to come get SS). Fortunately, DH lived on the North edge of town instead of the South (BM and I both lived North of town) – because he wouldn’t have been able to drive through town to get to us. DH and SS were very fortunate, and DH and BM were able to continue the custody arrangement like normal. Things could have easily gone very, very differently.


I first thought about this topic, because my mom started talking about the whole Syria thing. While I’m not rushing to come up with an emergency plan because of Syria, I thought it was an interesting topic. What would you do if a natural disaster devastated your area?  What if there was a war? What about another terrorist attack?


Really, it doesn’t even have to be the other parent (although that makes it a little more divorced/stepparent specific). What if they were at school? At a slumber party? Out of state, or overseas, on a school trip? 

by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 10:00 AM
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by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 10:20 AM

The truth is, we really don't have a solid plan yet.  But with the move overseas looming and the fact that so many of the embassies have either been evac'd or shut down, it's been on our minds a lot more lately.  Talking to families who've been evac'd from Cairo (not once but twice now) or who were evac'd during the tsunami in Japan, those who came through best did have a plan in place to minimize panic and decrease reconnect time.

I'm working on go-bags and getting important documents scanned and in the cloud.  Most of our paperwork is in order--such as POAs, medical authorizations, identification, etc.  I got a checklist and evac plan at the last class I attended and will be attending a security overseas briefing--a two day course--this fall.  Our primary "reconnect" place would be DH's folks or my Mom's.  Those are the two important addresses and phone numbers that everyone has just in case we were to get separated.  Being that they're in two different states, there shouldn't be a problem getting through to at least one.

It is not uncommon for families to get split up and evac'd separately and to separate countries so it's important to have a good plan to reconnect.  


When Sept 11 happened, I was on base in Italy.  Base went into Charlie and we were throwing on chem gear and non-essentials were told to get off base.  I couldn't get through to my mom back in the States for 2 days.  Not til I was getting ready to fly to Amsterdam on Sept 13.  

I don't worry too much about finding a good way to evac or stay safe.  I DO worry about being able to reconnect with family and make sure they know we're okay.

by Gold Member on Sep. 11, 2013 at 10:44 AM

The last 'emergency' type situation we had was back in 09 when DH totalled my car after picking SS up from an after school program. DH broke a vertebrae in his neck and SS got a bump on the head. At the time, BM was in prison...but with SS being alright we didn't think to try and contact her. We were more concerned about DH at the time.

Natural disasters, we would do what we would have even before BM passed. We live 3 hours away from where she lived so we would have dealt with things the best we could and let her know about it when we could get in touch with her. Several years ago there was a bad snow and ice storm where we live and we were without power for 5 days. Long time with a toddler and k-1st grader with no heat or electricity. I don't think we spoke with BM the entire time.

Most of the time BM was either unconcerned or trusted us to make the appropriate decisions.

Now, depending on the situation we might go stay with family if needed.

by Gold Member on Sep. 11, 2013 at 11:40 AM

I think that’s the biggest issue, contacting the other parent to let them know the kids are okay.


I just try to imagine how BM felt, and how she would have felt it she couldn’t get through to DH. Our radio station was on a twenty four hour tornado update for the next two weeks, but at the very beginning things were confusing and some information was inaccurate.


I remember sitting in our crawlspace, trying to keep my foster brother calm (If I wasn’t babysitting at that moment, I would have been out to dinner with DH and SS and we would have been right through the main drag of the tornado). My mom and her friend, who were going out for a girl’s night, heard the sirens right after they left the house and were able to make it back to our crawlspace. Minutes after the tornado came through, a storm chaser came on the radio and was reporting the path of destruction. He said it had reached Fourth and Range, and everything was gone. Fourth and Range is where the mall and movie theater is, and at the time my little sister (who was twelve) was at the movies with her friend. Thank God the storm chaser was wrong, because listening to him say that the place my sister was supposed to be was gone was one of the hardest things to hear.


I can’t imagine how that would have been for BM to hear. If the storm chaser would have been right (he was about ten blocks off), DH’s house would have been right in the middle of the devastation. I know she knows that the house (it was actually DH’s parent’s house) had a basement, but what if DH and SS had been in town? If DH hadn’t have texted her, or if his text hadn’t gone through, she wouldn’t have known that SS was fine. She couldn’t drive to DH’s house, because they had a strict quarantine set up.


We live in a smaller town, with roughly 50,000 people. I’ve always considered our town small; maybe not village sized, but definitely not a large city. People were ‘missing’ for days, when in reality they were sitting across town in a triage center and unable to get word to their family.

Quoting Birdseed:

  I DO worry about being able to reconnect with family and make sure they know we're okay.

by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 11:44 AM

I think it's a little easier when you're military or gov't because you're given a heads up about these things and are given some resources.  Knowing what to expect (sort of) can ease the panic.  

When the hurricane was coming in last fall, DH was here in NoVA and I was back home.  We were prepared for the possibility that we may not be able to communicate for a few days or more.  But a tornado is much more abrupt.  I grew up in tornado alley and to be honest, I was much less frightened about that than I am about some of the things facing us now.  Not sure why. Maybe it was just that it happened so frequently? We did have a connection plan back then too.  

by Gold Member on Sep. 11, 2013 at 12:28 PM

That’s how it was here. Nobody took the sirens seriously. Now everyone panics every time a siren goes off, which is frustrating because they now turn on the tornado sirens anytime the wind exceeds 70mph (smdh).


Tornados don’t send me into a panic, but I’m definitely a lot more cautious. I have a small cache of supplies in our garage, just in case we need to run to the crawlspace. However, I don’t plan on spending the night in the crawlspace just because the skies are cloudy.


Quoting Birdseed:

Not sure why. Maybe it was just that it happened so frequently?

by Platinum Member on Sep. 11, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Being in CA, our natural disaster would be an earthquake.  90% of the time, both boys would be near enough to me that I could walk/climb/crawl over whatever the earthquake did to get to them (they're within a couple of miles from me at most).  If either or both boys were with BF, that would be tougher, much tougher, as he lives an hour away without traffic and I can't imagine how long it'd take to get the boys back from him.  I have no plan for that in place as that's simply not something I could control (given the distance).  I'd 'wing it', much like I assume many others would.  ODS would probably walk/climb/crawl back himself as he wouldn't want to be with BF/SM/the girls.  YDS would want to get back too, but he'd have a tougher time of it, but he wouldnt' want to be with BF/SM/the girls either.  I truly don't know what I'd do, but I would get the boys back with me as soon as humanly possible. 

Any other disaster (manmade or natural), I'd do the same.  The elementary school is about 2 miles from work, less than that from home . The HS is about 4 miles away but still 'doable' if need be.  I also know others in those areas and we'd figure something out to contact them and we'd help each other out with kids and such. 

by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 12:39 PM

My family has never had a set plan. Before Sandy, like the day before, SO and I discussed with my kids what to do/who to go to if something really bad happened (no power, floods, etc). We were to meet in the dining room and DD would stay with SO & DS would stay with me. We had bags packed for them and everything. The morning after Sandy, SO was surprisingly able to get in touch with skids through text. He was ready to drive/walk to their house to check on them though. My whole family just wound up at my house. Cell phones werent working very well. Out of both our families, we were the only ones with power, so we had a very full house for a few days!

by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM

I suppose, assuming SD was with her Mom during an emergency, we would just wait for a phone call telling us that everything was okay. It would be scary, obviously, but in any emergency, you often have to wait for answers. If my kids were at school, or SD was with us, the same, we'd wait for a phone call or other information, or would try to contact BM as soon as possible. My husband and his daughters mom don't have a visitation agreement, but I think, in light of an emergency, the last thing on anyones mind is following a schedule.

by Gold Member on Sep. 11, 2013 at 12:44 PM
We haven't talked about it at all.... Idk what would be the best idea. I would feel safer with ss being with Dh, because we have all the documentation, insurance cards, and the ability to take bettet care of him in case of emergancy. Dh also has firearms and military experience if things get REALLY bad. Plus, we live on the outskirts of the suburbs and bm is in an apartment in the city- where things may get a bit more hectic.

This is actually something we need to start talking about. I'm going to bring the conversation up to Dh tonight.
by Platinum Member on Sep. 11, 2013 at 12:44 PM
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Honestly the only emergency plan I've thought about is the zombie apocalypse and my plan only works if I have both of them.... Honestly I would probably be terrible in an emergency if they weren't already with me...
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