Editor’s Note: In light of Monday’s tragic turn of events at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, the “Traveller” offers the following information about how to prepare for the unexpected.

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance: how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations.

Make a Plan

Make a family communications plan that includes an evacuation plan and coordinates with your school, work and community communication plans. Practice this plan with your entire family.

Deciding to Stay or Go

Depending circumstances and the nature of the attack, the first important decision is whether to stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Monitor TV or radio news reports for information or official instructions as they become available. If you’re specifically told to evacuate or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.

Family Emergency Plan

It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.

Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. You may have trouble getting through, or the telephone system may be down altogether, but be patient.

Emergency Contact Card

Tell everyone in the household where emergency contact information is kept. Make copies for each member of the family to carry with them.

Teach your children how and when to call 911 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for help. Post emergency telephone numbers by phones.

– Information compiled from Ready America and the American Red Cross Web sites.