Do you have an out-of-area contact in case of a major disaster?

The Great Washington Shake Out earthquake drill
The Great Washington ShakeOut earthquake drill is October 17. Sign up at

If you are separated from your loved ones after a disaster strikes, how will you get in touch with them? The Washington Emergency Management Division recommends establishing a common contact number; ideally, it will be someone who lives out of the area (more than 100 miles away). This gives everyone in your household a common point of contact to call or text.

Enter the emergency contact numbers in your wireless phone’s contact list and, as a back-up, make sure that every member of your household has at least one out-of-area contact phone number stored in a wallet, purse, or backpack at all times.

But doesn’t telephone service go out after a major disaster? Yes, but often the problem is that too many telephone calls are being made all at once. The landline system can be more dependable than cellular, and can work when the power system and cellular phones are knocked out of service. If you have a landline to your home, make sure there is at least one corded phone around to use for emergency calls during a prolonged power outage.

Establishing out-of-area contacts is one of the 12 steps you can take now to get prepared for the worst. Follow the Washington Emergency Management Division’s Prepare in a Year approach to planning by spending just an hour a month to complete each of the 12 steps so that by this time next year you’ll be much better prepared.

The Great Shake Out

Washington DNR and many other public agencies, schools, private businesses and individuals are taking part in The Great Washington Shakeout “drop, cover and hold on” earthquake drill at 10:17 a.m. on October 17. See a list of who’s participating, sign up and get more information about The Great Washington Shakeout.

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