In an emergency, it’s important to make sure you have access to clean water, food, heat – and communication. FEMA recently published a set of tips to ensure you are prepared for the worst, including the information to keep easily accessible and ways to best use your cell phone to stay safe.
Get Tech Ready
Store your important documents such as personal and financial records in a password-protected area in the Cloud or a secure flash or jump drive that you can keep readily available. This flash drive can be kept on a key ring so it can be accessed from any computer, anytime, anywhere.
On your Phone or Mobile Device
- Keep your contacts updated across all of your channels, including phone, email, and social media. This will make it easy to reach out to the right people quickly to get information and supply updates. Consider creating a group list serve of your top contacts.
- A crank charger is a good emergency tool to keep your laptop and other small electronics working in the event of a power outage. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger because you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home. If you’d like another backup option, a ChargeMethod Power Pack will last up to 12 hours – allowing you to receive important local information and stay connected to your friends and loved ones.
- Program “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) contacts into your cell phone so emergency personnel can contact those people for you if you are unable to use your phone. Let your ICE contacts know that they are programmed into your phone and inform them of any medical issues or other special needs you may have.
- If you have a traditional landline (non-broadband or VOIP) phone, keep at least one non-cordless receiver in your home because it will work even if you lose power.
- If you are evacuated and have call-forwarding on your home phone, forward your home phone number to your cell phone number.
- If you do not have a cell phone, keep a prepaid phone card to use if needed during or after a disaster.
Tips for making phone calls and using your smartphone during or after a disaster:
- Keep phone calls brief – try to convey only vital information to emergency personnel and family.
- If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cell phone, wait 10 seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion.
- Conserve your battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, placing your phone in airplane mode, and closing apps you are not using.
- Immediately following a disaster, resist using your mobile device to watch streaming videos, download music or videos, or play video games, all of which can add to network congestion. Limiting use of these services can help potentially life-saving emergency calls get through to 9-1-1.
- For nonemergency communications, use text messaging, e-mail, or social media instead of making voice calls on your cell phone to avoid tying up voice networks. Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion. You can also use social media to post your status to let family and friends know you are OK. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you can use resources such as the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well program.