Stay Safe: Out-of-Area Phone Contacts

Welcome to the first post in a series on emergency preparedness by Ravenna Blog’s designated safety expert, Shannon (AKA safetygirl).

Shannon has been attending the Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare (SNAP) training sessions offered by the city, and she has graciously offered to share her knowledge with the rest of the community on the Ravenna Blog.

Shannon will be bringing us tidbits on emergency preparedness every Tuesday until she runs out of ideas (or the apocalypse occurs, whichever comes first).


After a local emergency or a natural disaster, long-distance phone lines are more reliable than local lines or cell phones, which will be jammed with local people calling each other to get information.

Ask a friend or relative who lives outside of Washington State to be your family contact, and then make sure every member of your family has their number.

The Office of Emergency Management also reminds us:

The phone system will most likely become unavailable after a disaster, almost always caused by overuse of the system. Stay off all phones, both cell and land line phones, for at least 3 to 5 hours after a disaster, unless you need to call 911 for a life-threatening situation.

In the event of a local emergency like an earthquake, your family contact will become a relay point to share information with all your household members. If your household is separated during the emergency, which is likely if it takes place during a weekday, everyone will have a better chance of getting through to the out-of-area contact than to each other.

Remember, this plan depends on everyone having the contact’s phone number! Put it into your family’s address books, cell phones, or somewhere else accessible.

You can download a helpful PDF here.