UW News

February 19, 2009

Choose an out-of-state contact person in case of emergency

Editor’s note: The Emergency Management Division of the Washington Military Department is offering a tip a month to help people get prepared for a disaster. University Week will carry these tips each month.

February’s tip has to do with out-of-area contacts. In an emergency, local phone lines are often jammed because of the number of people trying to make calls at the same time. Long-distance lines, however, are freer, so you can usually make long-distance calls. Therefore, each family should decide on a contact person who lives at least 100 miles away. Then, during a disaster, family members can call the contact person to report on their own status and check on others.

The stress of such an event, however, may make it difficult to remember even routine information, like phone numbers. Consequently, the Emergency Management Division recommends that every household member have an out-of-area contact card with the contact person’s name and phone number and that this card be carried in a wallet, purse or backpack at all times.

Other tips:

  • Keep a phone that does not require electricity. Cordless phones require electricity and will not work if the power is out.
  • Pay phones are part of the emergency services network, and are a priority to be restored to service. Tape the coins needed to use a pay phone to your out-of-area contact card.
  • After an earthquake, make sure all your phones are hung up. Large numbers of handsets knocked from their bases cause problems for local phone systems.
  • You may be able to text messages to your loved ones on your cell phone. Keep these messages short.

Click here to download a PDF with this information.

Click here to visit UW’s Emergency Management Office Web site.