Disasters create all kinds of immediate and long-range needs. Perhaps the most pressing need is: Where are my loved ones? Are they safe? Have they been hurt? When will they get home? When will I see them and give them a hug?
Needing answers to these questions, perhaps desperately so, does not mean you
will be able to jump in your car, or hop on your bicycle, or even lace up your running shoes to quickly get to where they are. The reality of disaster is many roadways are damaged and impassable. Bridges and overpasses may have collapsed. Power lines are down and dangerous. Sidewalks are buckled. In many instances, it will be impossible for you to physically travel and get to where your loved ones are.
You may also experience the frustration of not being able to place local phone calls.
Phone systems may be damaged, but the more likely challenge is everyone – instantly – wants to be on the phone at the exact same time. This overloads the local system.
However, long-distance calls can still be made (in most every instance).
What? So how does calling long distance help me when my loved ones are here, not across the country? The answer: You are not trying to call your loved ones. You are calling someone who can give you the status of your loved ones!
Here's how it works:
Prior to the disaster – today is a very good choice to do this! – you identify a person who lives at least 100 miles away that you all will call! Choosing someone who lives at least 100 miles away helps to ensure they are not in the area impacted by the disaster. This person becomes your Out-of-Area Contact Person.
Then, to help all your loved ones remember to call this person – and to remember the phone number – have each person in your household fill out an Out-of-Area Contact Card.
Ensure each loved one keeps a Contact Card in his/her backpack, wallet, or purse.
Please don't say to yourself, "We don't need to do this. We all know the phone number of our Contact Person by heart." During times of crisis and stress, memory becomes fallible and imperfect.
And, don't think you don't need to do this because you all have the information stored on your individual phones. What if the phone is damaged in the disaster? Or lost? What if the battery runs out?
The easy remedy to these scenarios is to have this small card (your can order these cards from our store if you like – they are the size of a business card, or it is super easy to make your own) safely tucked away in a backpack, wallet, and purse.
Imagine your peace of mind of knowing that all your loved ones are prepared to call the same person following disaster. Imagine your relief when you find out the status of each one, where they are, and when they will be home. Please do this today!