11/06/2012 01:15 pm ET Updated Jan 06, 2013

The Time To Prepare For Disaster Is In Advance

As millions of people are struggling to define their new normal post-Sandy, there may be gaps in your own disaster-preparedness. I know, as an executive coach and more importantly, a mom, that the time to prepare for any situation is before the situation happens. Harvey Mackay said it best, "Dig your well before you're thirsty."

It's a disaster like Sandy that can bring to the forefront our need as parents, specifically divorced parents, to define what co-parenting protocols should be in place for the next time any tenuous situation occurs. It's not just a natural disaster that can crop up; recently a middle school in our city was evacuated because there was a man with a rifle seen at the school. Would your kids know how to reach you in the event there was a true emergency at their school?

Regardless of how well you get along, or don't, with your ex, there are circumstances that can occur that will require the two of you to set your feelings aside and work together. Because events that include the words "emergency" and "disaster" already raise the stakes and heighten emotions, the time to discuss possible scenarios is right now, today.

In addition to making sure your children know their basic personal information, how to identify themselves, how to get help when needed and how and when to call 911, they also need to know both mom and dad's full names and their work and phone numbers from memory. Because there are multiple households, your kids need to know each home's plans in case of an emergency.

In order to be ready for anything, schedule some time with everyone -- yes, your ex, his or her new spouse, and all of your kids and any other caretakers (mother-in-law, nanny, your next door neighbors) -- to meet and discuss what needs to be in place in the event of an emergency. If there is tension between you and your ex, you could email your intentions in the event of a situation and ask for theirs. For the sake of your kids, come together long enough to discuss the following:
  • Where will everyone meet in the event they can't get home? Identify an alternate meeting place.
  • Who is an out-of-state contact everyone can reach?
  • What will you need to take with you if you're evacuated unexpectedly? Make a list, and pre-pack it.
  • What is the school or daycare center's policies in the event of an emergency? Ensure they always have the most up-to-date information so everyone who needs to be reached can be reached.

Be sure to know your ex's information, and ensure that both of you (and any new spouses) have a recent picture of your child in your briefcase, purse or on your cell-phone.

Regardless of your personal feelings, you, your ex and your kids deserve the peace of mind that comes with having a plan.

Honorée Corder is an executive coach, personal transformation expert, and the author of "The Successful Single Mom" book series, written for single moms who want to create an amazing future, available at Barnes & Noble,, and on iTunes. She also created the Single Mom Transformation Program. Visit for more information. Stay tuned for the upcoming The Successful Single Dad.

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