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  • Writer's pictureShawndra Holmberg

Evacuating? Take your phone -- they didn't 😨

"...people who left their cell phones...don't remember people's phone numbers" quote from police in Redding CA

The California Wildfires are claiming lives and scattering families. According to the police in Redding, CA (Carr Fire in California is so hot it's creating its own weather system), several people who evacuated their homes left their cell phones behind. They weren't able to contact family and friends to tell them they were safe because they couldn't remember the phone numbers.

Most of us now rely on speed dial or pushing a button to connect us to others. What if you didn't have your phone or the battery died? Would you be able to contact your loved ones?

Have a backup plan (or rather two).

Family Communication Plan - Use Promo Code -- FREE -- to download  for FREE.

A Family Communication Plan includes phone numbers and designated locations where you'll meet if you're separated and can't get home.

Add the names, phone numbers and other information for household members. There's room on the back to add more family and friends if needed.

Click here for a copy of the Family Communication Plan, add it to your cart and enter FREE as the Promo Code at checkout.

Once you've added the information and have a hard copy, keep a physical copy with you.

Family Communication Plan WALLET CARD - Use Promo Code -- FREE -- to download  for FREE.

If you want something smaller in your wallet, purse or backpack, create a wallet card with your evacuation location and your emergency contact's phone number.

Download this wallet card template to print on business card stock and give each member of your family one to carry. Enter FREE as the Promo Code at checkout

2. Back up your phone contacts

There are two reasons to have a backup of your phone contacts: 1) in case your phone needs to be replaced and you want to easily restore your contacts; and 2) you need to contact family or friends to tell them you're safe but you don't have your phone and you can't remember their number.

That last reason is the important one today. If you have to evacuate because of a fire, flood, hurricane, lava, or other emergency but you can't grab your phone, you'll need the numbers of family, friends, and your emergency contact. Besides the hard copy of the family communication plan above, you'll may want access to more of your contacts.

You'll need:

  • an app to export your contacts in a format you can read (usually a CSV file you can open in Excel, Google Sheets, or OpenOffice Calc).

I use My Contacts Backup Pro. I always try out the free version before I pay for apps, but in this case I'd suggest going straight to the paid version or look for another app that allows you to export your contacts.

  • offsite storage of the file. You can use a cloud storage option such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Box or other cloud platform. Your email might even work as offsite storage. Or you can use an external hard drive or USB memory stick you securely store offsite.

Emergencies and disasters don't wait for when it's more convenient. Neither should you. Back up your contacts now!

Take Action Today:

  1. create a family communication plan & keep a copy with you

  2. back up your contacts offsite


Though the action today is focused on creating a backup of your contacts in a format you can read without your phone, I mentioned needing the contact information to restore it when you get a new phone.

Your iPhone can be backed up using iCloud or iTunes or both (also your iPad and iPod touch). Apple has step-by-step directions on How to back up your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Set it up now. Keep in mind this is a backup that can restore your information to a device. This isn't for accessing the information directly and immediately.

If you have an android phone, search online using keywords "backup contacts android" + your phone manufacturer. Each manufacturer will offer different features and use different terminology.

If you struggle with technology, the best resource for backing up your contacts may be the store where you bought your phone or a family member who's already done it. If you need help, look at your schedule for the upcoming week. Identify and schedule time to get this backup done.

For more actions to take to be prepared, check out my book 31 Small Steps to Organize for Emergencies (and Disasters) - 2nd Edition -


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