Communication during an emergency is crucial when letting family and friends know what is happening to you. Unfortunately, internet service providers, cell phone towers and landlines can be unpredictable and sometimes unreliable. So, along with your other planning, it’s important to make sure you are tech ready by following some of these tips from www.ready.gov.
Use text messages, social media and email to connect with friends and family during emergencies.
Mobile networks can become overwhelmed during emergencies, making it difficult to place and receive phone calls. Text messages require less bandwidth, which means they are able to be transmitted more reliably during situations when many people are trying to use their mobile phones at the same time.
Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter can also be an effective way to update family and friends during emergencies. Facebook’s Safety Check feature allows users to easily post a status update indicating that they are safe during a time of disaster.
Register with American Red Cross’s Safe & Well site to let family and friends know you’re okay.
After registering, you can select a message to let family and friends know you’re OK. Concerned family and friends can search this list to find their loved one’s first name, last name, an “as of date” and the “safe and well” message.
Have an emergency charging option for your phone and other mobile devices.
Smartphones have become a vital tool to receive emergency alerts and warnings, so it’s important to make sure you can keep them powered up in an emergency.
• At home: Make sure that all of your electronic devices are fully charged. If the power goes out, preserve battery power by minimizing device use. Keep a back-up power source on hand to recharge your phone so that you can stay connected even during an extended power outage.
• In your car: Keep a portable phone charger in your vehicle at all times, and consider purchasing a back-up power supply to keep in your vehicle as well.
• Change the settings on your phone to low power mode or place it on airplane mode to conserve energy.
Store important documents in a secure, password-protected jump drive or in the cloud.
• There are a number of productivity apps for mobile devices that make this easier than ever, using your phone’s camera as a scanning device. Capture electronic versions of important documents such as insurance policies, identification documents, and medical records. Don’t forget to include your pet’s information.
• Back-up your computer to protect photos and other personally important electronic documents.
• Scan old photos to protect them from loss.
• Keep your contacts updated and synced 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 listserv of your top contacts.
• Create a group chat via a texting app or a thread for family/ friends/coworkers to communicate quickly during a disaster.
Sign up for Direct Deposit and electronic banking through your financial institution so you can access your payroll funds and make electronic payments wherever you are.
For more information, please visit www.ready.gov/get-tech-ready.
Next month: Financial Prepardedness
Stay Safe Out There.
Your Northgate Area Cert Team
If you are interested in learning more about CERT and/or how to become a volunteer, please visit our website at www.walnut-creek.org/cert.
By Judy Caponigro, Resident since 2017, Northgate Area CERT Team