One of the most important components to having a complete disaster preparedness plan is to have an out of state contact. An out of state contact is a predetermined friend of family member who all members of your family are aware of who in time of disaster will call and check in with. In time of disaster, phone services may be highly impacted. The utilization of an out of state contact allows for family members who may be inside of the impact area and separated to have a central check in person. I will use my family as an example: I am at work at my fire station. My daughters are at school. (3 daughters at 3 different schools) My sister lives in St. Louis. If a large scale disaster hits my region and I can not reach my daughters, due to local phone lines being damaged or overwhelmed, by having a predetermined out of state contact, my daughters know to call their aunt and check in. This allows me as their father some relief when I call my sister and she can report to me: Yes, I have heard from Teighlor and Dominique. No I have not heard from Shelby. I can then either focus my attention to Shelby or I can check published information from the area Shelby’s school is in and make an educated decision if maybe she is fine, but phones are still out, she is in a shelter or stay calm and check back later.
The reason my out of state contact will know before me is that generally during a time of major disaster and land lines are impacted, the phone company will bring phone services back in a priority order. The priority order is:
1. Emergency/Government Services
2. Long Distance Services
3. Pay Phones (note working pay phones and keep coinage to use)
4. Business & Residential Services