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      Back to school means more than pencils, pens and paper

      file photo

      When you send your kids to school they have pens, papers, pencils and a backpack. But do you also pack a plan on how you and your kids will communicate if there's a disaster?

      That is one of the points of emphasis the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is making sure parents hear as the school year gets ready to start.

      When the EF-5 tornado struck Moore Oklahoma, there were many parents who didn't know where their children were at. Either because they had been evacuated to a safe location by school staff, or because the phone lines and cell phone service had been disrupted. That's why now, emergency management officials want parents to have a game plan in place in case a disaster strikes close to home.

      "There are a lot of different factors that that parents need to take into account now that it's back to school. There needs to be conversation of what is meeting point a - b - c and d. In order to have flexibility in that plan," Adams County Emergency Management Director John Simon said.

      Tiffany Minor and her children have such a plan in place. They have cell phones, but they also have a Plan B and even a Plan C in place in case they would ever be separated because of a tornado or other disaster.

      "It wasn't much thought about it until some other things happened over the last couple of years that maybe makes you think a couple, a couple more things that you need to realize that you need to talk about besides just what we need to do to get back to school besides dentist appointments and things like that," Minor said.

      Simon also said a plan to be able to communicate with your children should also include a phone for a relative who lives out of town. The plan should also have at least two or three meeting places that are in a specific order in case one place is destroyed. All this to make sure parents and their children are reunited and together in case a disaster should ever strike.

      Simon also said parents should know the disaster plans for their children's schools.

      In the event of a tornado of other disaster, parents will know the protocol as to where children might be relocated.