Week 3 – Your Family’s Out of Area Contact

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By Jackie Kloosterboer – Author – My Earthquake Preparedness Guide

After an earthquake our number one concern will be our family!  Where are they? How are they? Have they survived it?

So how will you contact them?  Today when you need to reach your family you simply grab your cell phone, hit the call icon and it goes through.  After an earthquake it will not be that easy.  Chances are – your call will not go through. 

That is why you need an t Out of Area Contact.  Your Out of Area Contact is one potential way you can connect with your family if phone are overloaded or not working.  Over the coming weeks we will look at other ways to connect with your family during times of disaster but we will start with your Out of Area  Contact.
STEP 1 – Identify a friend or family member who lives out of the province to be your Out of Area Contact, Alaska, Washington, Oregon or California are not great choices as they too could be affected by the earthquake.  Where possible go east of the Rockies.  For people with family overseas that is a good choice for your Out of Area Contact.
STEP 2 – Ensure your friend or family members are willing to be your Out of Area Contact.  Make sure you have their home and cell phone numbers and also  their email so you can contact them.  A word of caution – we all put our contact numbers in our cell phones – but if power is out and you can’t charge your cell phone you won’t have access to your Out of Area Contact Make sure you carry your Out of Area Contact number in your wallet.  
STEP 3 – Ensure you have a hard wired phone line and a phone that does not require power. (I keep mine stored in my closet.)  If electricity is out your phone will not work.  If you don’t have a hard wired phone line pay attention to those around you that do .  You may need to ask them if you can make a call to your Out of Area Contact from their phone. 
STEP 4 – When faced with an earthquake and you are unable to connect with your family, you will call your Out of Area Contact.  You will be able to provide your info and get updates on other family members who have already called in.  Keep your calls short as others may also be trying to use the phone lines. If family members have not yet checked in try calling back a little bit later.
With the many presentations I do on Earthquake Preparedness, I am often asked what is the point of having an Out of Area Contact – if our  phone lines are going to be down – why bother?  
It is important to realize that there is no guarantee this will work – we don’t know what we will have available to us after an earthquake. But wouldn’t it be worse if you could make a long distance call and you just never bothered to follow up on this!
Remember – your family is counting on you.  Follow the simple steps above and get your family’s Out of Area Contact in place.  You will certainly be glad you did when facing an earthquake.  
Check back over the following weeks for other ways to connect with your loved ones during times of disaster.

Your Task for this Week:

  1. Select a friend or family out of the Province to be your Out of Area Contact
  2. Talk to your family about how and when to call your Out of Area Contact
  3. Create Out of Area Contact Cards for your family to keep in their wallets

We know it’s only a matter of time before the big one strikes.  Make sure you, your family and pets are prepared to Survive-It!  The time to prepare is NOW – once the earthquake strikes it will be too late!
As Always,
Be Prepared – Not Scared
Jackie Kloosterboer has been leading the way in earthquake preparedness for 2 decades presenting more than 100 Earthquake Preparedness sessions each year. She is often interviewed by a variety of media outlets across Canada as she promotes the importance of earthquake and disaster preparedness.
As an Emergency Planner and an Instructor with the Justice Institute of BC Jackie travels across Canada teaching volunteers how to respond to disasters to help those who have been displaced. Throughout British Columbia Jackie has taken on leadership roles assisting those who have been impacted by disaster.

Contact Jackie at (604) 355-2414 or jackie@survive-it.ca

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