Monday, December 28, 2009

Locating a Loved One in an Emergency

Imagine this: You live in the State of Washington and see vivid news coverage of a huge wildfire in California’s Orange County. Your son and his family live there! You’ve tried to phone them, but calls aren’t getting through. What can you do?

Contact the American Red Cross, or better yet, go to the Safe and Well website, Click on “Getting Assistance,” then on “Contacting Family Members.” You will be prompted to give specific information such as the victim’s name and address or phone number. If the victims have registered, you will be given their specific messages.

What if you’re the victim and must leave your home? How can you let everyone know you’re okay? Go to and list yourself as safe and well.

This is how it works. The Red Cross assists displaced families to communicate from the disaster area with loved ones outside the area. Victims register themselves as “Safe and Well” by selecting and posting standard messages for family and friends that indicate they are safe and well in a shelter, hotel, or another home, and will make contact when possible.

The 14 standard messages include:
– I am safe and well
– Family and I are safe and well
– Currently at a shelter
– Currently at home
– Currently at a friend/family member/neighbor’s house
– Will make phone calls when able
– Will e-mail when able
– I am evacuating to a shelter

The victim checks as many boxes as are appropriate.

Because of privacy laws, no location information is publicly displayed on this website. The results of a successful search only displays a loved one’s first and last name, the “as of” date, and the Safe and Well standard messages they posted.

When disaster victims register at a Red Cross shelter or go to Red Cross feeding and distribution sites, they are encouraged to contact family members to let them know they are safe and well. If Internet is not available, the Red Cross has a Registration Form that can be completed by hand and which in turn will be entered into the Safe and Well computer system by Red Cross volunteers.

The American Red Cross works closely with many organizations to provide communication during times of emergencies. Contact Loved Ones voice message service,, 1-866-782-6682, can be accessed by either victims or by concerned family members outside a disaster zone.

If urgent or emergency personal contact between a person in the Armed Services and their family is required, the Red Cross is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to send emergency communication to a deployed service member, a member in training or stationed far from home. In an emergency, call your local American Red Cross chapter for assistance with their Service to Armed Forces program.

The American Red Cross knows how important family contact is during an emergency, for both victims and for their loved ones. The Red Cross has long served in this capacity, but has recently streamed-lined its process through the Safe and Well website.


MaryAnn said...

Great Information Mary! Thanks!

Wendy Harman said...

This is Wendy Harman from the American Red Cross. Thanks for posting this Mary!

Linda Sandifer said...

Thanks for this post, Mary. It is good to know since all of my daughters live in other states. I'm going to give the information to them, too.

Joyce4Books said...

Mary -- Have you thought about writing a book containing all of these wonderful ideas and instructions to help keep us all safe? Seems like it would be a winner. Thanks for sharing them -- Joyce

ValinParis said...

Thanks for this info, Mary!

RoyLesher said...

Good stuff, Mary, and I'll be glad to list your reference and link back to your site. I know the Red Cross too well and have very mixed opinions about them, mostly negative. (1) I was in Biloxi in 69 for Camille and as we were leaving our shelters the morning after Camille, with winds still 50-60 mph, the Salvation Army was already out in force with hot meals, blankets, and clothing. The Red Cross showed up a week later and started to train volunteers how to fill out paperwork. Horrible and insensitive performance. They did much better in Katrina, but they're still a red tape machine. (2) Their tooth to tail ratio is lousy. Too much money goes to executives and overhead.
Roy Lesher, (360) 387-0483,