May 7, 2018
Using Your Mobile Phone Before, During and After Hurricane Emergencies .
With nearly all Americans owning a mobile device, wireless plays a key role in keeping Americans safe during emergencies and natural disasters like hurricanes.
This week marks Hurricane Awareness Week, a good time to ensure that you and your family are prepared in case of an emergency. To make the most of your wireless device in the event of a hurricane or other disaster, here are several steps you can take:
- Keep your cell phone charged and conserve battery life. Carry a spare cell phone battery pack and fully charge your phone if a storm is on the way. Preserve your battery in an emergency by adjusting your settings and closing unnecessary apps.
- Familiarize yourself with the features of your phone. Camera and notepad applications can be used to take stock of valuables for insurance purposes. And through medical ID apps, iPhone and Android devices support the display of emergency contacts, allergies and blood type on a locked screen in case of an emergency.
- Check to see if your device receives Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). A WEA is sent to those at risk by an authorized local, state or federal public safety official in the event of an emergency. More information on WEAs can be found here.
- Use your mobile browser or apps to track weather & emergency response info. The National Hurricane Center’s mobile website can help you track inclement weather, while the American Red Cross Hurricane app is available for free download on both iOS and Android Download this and other emergency apps, like one from FEMA, to help keep you updated if a disaster unfolds.
- Use your phone to download offline maps, which can be useful in the event of an evacuation. To preserve battery and avoid congesting mobile data, save an area from Google Maps to your phone or tablet to be used offline. Details on how to download maps on iOS and Android be found here.
- Where possible, choose less data-intensive ways of contacting loved ones. Consider texting, emailing or using social media to check in with family or loved ones to ensure networks can handle critical phone calls and other traffic.
- Avoid calling 9-1-1 in non-emergency circumstances. Familiarize yourself with or save as contacts the numbers of local, non-emergency services like utility companies and roadside assistance to ensure that in non-critical situations, 9-1-1 operators remain available to others.
- When calling 9-1-1, have detailed location information ready. Be prepared to relay a street address if possible, and stay on the line until the 9-1-1 call center operator tells you it’s safe to end the call. Do not hang up and call back – it can clog the system.
More information about how you can prepare your mobile device for an emergency can be found here.