Communication in an Emergency

Communication Tips

Traditional means of communication may be limited during a widespread emergency situation. It is important that you identify several different ways to communicate with your family and friends.
Emergency communication:

  • Long distance lines often work even if local phone lines do not.
  • Designate an out-of-area contact person. Family members should call this person to report their location if they cannot reach each other. Provide your contact person with important names and numbers so they can assist in keeping others posted on your situation, and let your friends and family know whom they can contact to check on you in case of an emergency.
  • Cell phone networks are often overwhelmed during an emergency; do not rely on using you cell phone for calls.
  • Text messaging on cell phones sometimes works even when the network is overwhelmed.
  • Make sure you have at least one phone in your house that does not require electricity to work. (Cordless phones and most business phone systems do require electricity.)
  • Avoid making non-emergency calls!
  • Make sure your entire household knows necessary emergency contact information.
  • Program an ICE or in-case-of-emergency point of contact into your cell phone in case you are incapacitated. This should be a family member, friend, or relative.


Knowing your neighbors can give you a critical advantage during an emergency. Good community relationships can help keep your family and neighborhood safe and simplify your family communication plan. Make arrangements with your neighbors to check on each other's homes and pets when traveling. Find out what specialized knowledge, skills, and equipment members of your community possess. Knowing what is available to you in the event of a disaster can make your response more effective.

Volunteer opportunities are available to assist in community emergency preparedness and response as well. These function to assist first responders and other agencies during disasters and large-scale emergencies.