WASHINGTON, July 9 (UPI) -- As Hurricane Dennis forces many Gulf Coast residents to evacuate, the American Red Cross urges every U.S. household to have a family communication plan.
Due to widespread power and telecommunication outages, service may not be restored for several days -- and the Red Cross can get flooded with phone calls seeking information on loved ones.
Taking the initiative to establish contact quickly with a designated person will save loved ones from making multiple calls to reach relatives, said the Red Cross in a statement. Such a plan can help alleviate relatives' anxiety and reduce the number of phone calls that can often overload the system following a disaster, said the statement.
The Red Cross recommends choosing one person far enough away from an event to receive phone calls from an evacuee. The evacuee should call the designated person as soon as phone lines are operating -- and family and friends concerned about loved ones can call the designated person to find out how the evacuees have fared.
If telephone lines don't work, the Red Cross said e-mail sometimes goes through when phone calls cannot.