CAL FIRE offers advice about how to contact loved ones during an - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

CAL FIRE offers advice about how to contact loved ones during an emergency

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With Hurricane Florence already impacting a widespread region of the east coast, CAL FIRE is offering advice about how to contact your loved ones during an emergency. 

Firefighters said calling and texting family members can bog down phone lines so people are advised to designate one out-of-the-area contact to communicate with.

As of Thursday afternoon, Hurricane Florence is already dumping heavy rain and causing flooding in the Carolinas. It is expected to make landfall on Friday. 

If you have loved ones in an emergency area like North and South Carolina, you probably want to call and text all of them, but CAL FIRE says you shouldn't because it can congest phone lines.

Instead it's best to have a single out-of-area contact.

CAL FIRE says it's best to designate one person to be a contact during an emergency.

"Cell phone systems can get jammed really quickly in an emergency situation," said Chris Elms, CAL FIRE SLO spokesperson.

"So having one person that says I'm going to be the point of contact with those family members having texts and understanding that some of that stuff might be delayed."

Nancy Hoyt, a Morro Bay resident, talks to her East Coast friend using Zello, a walkie talkie app and other emergency apps that can override the silent settings on someone's phone. 

"So I'd say 'Hi Rose, any heavier wind or rain yet?' and you let go and it goes to her. She'll get back on and she'll talk to me and it goes back and forth like a walkie-talkie."

If there were an emergency on the Central Coast, you should designate a family member outside the area as the single point of contact.

"You really want to have a contact that's in either Northern California or Southern California out of the immediate area where the family, where family members know to get a hold of."

CAL FIRE's "Ready for Wildfire" app helps you create a checklist for any emergencies.

It can even help you create an evacuation kit.

"You want to have drinking water, food, medications for every member of your family including your pets for up to 3 days," added Elms.

During emergencies, you can't always rely on cell or Wi-Fi service. Cal fire says it's important to have an emergency family communication plan, designated meeting spot and an evacuation kit.

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