How to Create a Family PACE Plan

How did you fare in the recent massive cellular outage that affected an estimated one third of users across the country? Even if your carrier wasn’t affected, you may have had difficulty contacting others who use AT&T’s network.

Many of us know that we should have a plan in place to contact loved ones when disruptions happen, but how well-thought out are your plans? Even, so, many who did have plans in place spent the day shoring up the details of their logistics and equipment.

Having a “PACE plan” that outlines how to communicate when infrastructure fails can reduce stress and provide peace of mind in the midst of the threats we face today.

PACE is an acronym for Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency. When creating a PACE plan, thought is given to how you would communicate to loved ones or team members within each category:

P = Primary
A = Alternate
C = Contingency
E = Emergency

The Primary plan is what you do when the world is operating as normal, with no interruptions to power grids or communications systems. An example of a Primary plan would be to use your cell phone to call a family member.

Alternate plans are methods of communication that would not be as convenient or as good as the Primary but is still a viable option. An example of an Alternate plan is to use social media, email or Zello to contact a family member. 

Contingency plans come into play if primary and alternate methods fail. This solution is not as convenient as the first two options. In this scenario, cell phone networks are likely down. An example of a contingency plan is to use radio to communicate.

The last step in PACE planning is the Emergency method. This is your last-ditch plan. Nothing else has worked and you need to think out of the box. In this scenario your plan might be to meet your family members at a park if that is the closest point to your workplaces and/or school. If one person doesn’t show up, you can leave a note in a pre-identified location at the park and head home.

Considering the points above, a basic PACE plan for your family could look something like this:

  1. Primary – Text message
  2. Alternate – Zello (push to talk radio app)
  3. Contingency – FRS radios (walkie talkies) or GMRS handheld radios
  4. Emergency – Meet up in person (specify location)

You would then add more detail around each of these categories, like specifying a group for texting, channels for Zello and radio, and a location to meet up.

When working on your PACE plan, try to avoid having a single point of failure. If all your plans rely on the internet, then you are vulnerable to internet failures as well.

PACE plans should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to account for changes to the channels you use, people included, phone numbers, etc. Instructions can be printed on a wallet-sized card and given to each person.

Don’t delay. Create a family PACE plan today and make sure everyone understands how to follow it.

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