December 28 is National Call a Friend Day
Many people would rather send a text than make a call and it shows.
Americans spend, on average, five more minutes per day texting (26 minutes) versus calling (21 minutes), by some estimates.(1) Among Americans younger than 50, sending and receiving text messages is the most used method of communication, according to a 2014 Gallup poll.(2)
While we can all admit that texting is an easy way to connect with friends and family, that doesn’t mean it’s always the best way. Here are 3 reasons why you shouldn’t “phone it in” on National Call a Friend Day.
1. You need an Out-of-Town Contact
Seize National Call a Friend Day as an opportunity to ask a friend to be your family’s Out-of-Town Contact during an emergency.
Peace of mind (the kind earned through pre-planning) can help you stay calm in an emergency. If you and your family are separated during or by a sudden disaster, you will want to know where your loved ones are and if they’re okay and vice versa. An Out-of-Town Contact is someone who lives outside of the immediate area—preferably in another state—that can help family members stay connected when it is easier to make a long-distance phone call than a local one.
Include the name and contact information, including social media handles, of your Out-of-Town Contact in your family’s Emergency Action Plan. It’s important that you also write down contact information for your physician, pediatrician, pharmacist, caregiver, veterinarian, and others.
2. Conversation is a powerful coping tool
Connecting with friends and family through phone calls and video chats is a means of self-care that can help you and your loved ones feel less alone or isolated in stressful situations, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s holiday season may be a difficult and stressful time for many. Being away from family and friends during the winter holidays can be hard.
CDC recommends hosting a virtual celebration with friends and family who do not live with you. A virtual meeting might also be a good time to talk about how you and they are feeling. The How Right Now campaign has tips for how to have a meaningful conversation and listen with compassion any time of year.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. If you or a loved one is feeling overwhelmed, get support. The Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7 confidential, free emotional support. If you or someone you know needs emotional support, call or text 1-800-985-5990.
3. Talking improves preparedness
A survey taken by FEMA in 2014 showed that talking about preparedness had a “strong positive relationship with preparedness behavior;” but that less than half of respondents had done so in the 2 years leading up to the survey.(3) The researchers concluded that “opportunities for people to discuss preparedness should be enhanced [sic].”
National Call a Friend Day is an opportunity to talk to your family about how to communicate during a disaster, to your child’s school administrator about their family reunification plans, and to your healthcare provider about how to create an emergency supply of essential prescriptions.
Regular conversations like these about matters of preparedness and response can help you plan ahead in ways that can save you time, money, and worry during an emergency.
For more information on how to prepare your health for emergencies, visit https://www.cdc.gov/prepyourhealth/.
Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that the CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.
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