If you are separated from your loved ones when disaster strikes, you will need a way to find out where they are. The stress of the event may make it difficult to remember even routine information, like phone numbers. Every household member should have an out-of-area contact card in a wallet, purse or backpack at all times.
Things to do before disaster strikes
- Ask an out-of-area family member or friend to be your contact person. This person should live at least 100 miles away from you. It may be difficult to make local calls because large numbers of people may be using the phone lines at the same
time. However, you should be able to make long distance calls.
- Make small cards with the contact person's name and phone number for all
family members to carry in their wallets, purses or backpacks.
- Keep a phone that does not require electricity. Cordless phones use electricity—if the power is out, they will not work!
Out-of-area wallet contact card
Make copies of this card for all family members. Have each person add your family's contact information and place the cards in their wallet or purse.
(Cut out the card image, fold over to fit into a wallet.)
Contacting loved ones after disasters
- All household members should call the out-of-area contact. The contact person will collect information about each family
member, where they are and how to contact them.
- You may be able to send text messages to your loved ones on your cell phone. Keep messages short.
- Make sure the handsets to your phones are hung up—during events such as earthquakes handsets can get knocked off their bases. When large numbers of phones are off-the-hook, local phone service may stop working correctly.
- You should be able to use a pay phone if your home phone does not work. 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.
(All files are PDF.)
DOH Pub 821-046
Revised - March 2008