If you are embracing for Hurricane Sandy, you will probably want prepare not only your home but your cell phone and smartphone. The most important thing to remember is to text during a disaster if your voice phone calls are not going through.
Text messages use very little data and may be the best and easiest way to get your messages to your family and friends.
The way cell service works is that the cell towers in your area look for your cell phone in the area where you were last. At most times, cell towers looking for you, don't get overloaded. However, in a disaster the towers have trouble finding you.
Here are favorite cellphone and disaster tips/reminders:
- Guard your smartphone/cell phone from the elements, don't let them get wet, too hot or too cold.
- Check for emergency FEMA alerts.
- You should have an extra charged battery when possible as well as an alternative charger such as a car charge, battery charger or solar charger.
- Keep important information backed up on small media, such as a microSD card, flash drive or SD card.
- Program all of your emergency contact numbers and email addresses into your mobile phone. Numbers should include the police department, fire station and hospital, as well as your family members.
- Check your phone's signal strength in a non-emergency situation to know where the signal is strong and where it's not.
- Set Up Web Accessible Voice Mail if the power goes out, it will turn off your telephone answering machine and you probably will not be able to charge your phone. A web-based or carrier-based voicemail system will allow you to retrieve messages while you are away from home, If you are evacuated and also from the web in an emergency center.
- Make Calls Indoors - Okay we know lightening doesn't usually strike during a hurricane, however, it there is lightning there is some evidence that cell phone antenna could act as a lightening rod.
- Download Emergency /Weather Apps, Bookmark Info - Apps such as FEMA's emergency app and weather notifications can help. We also suggest you bookmark in your browser resources for your area. Some suggested sites to bookmark are the National Weather Service (http://mobile.weather.gov), Center for Disease Control (http://m.cdc.gov), and FEMA (http://m.fema.gov).
If a natural disaster escalates to a point where you have to be evacuated for any reason, contact your carrier. They often offer free voicemail and landline call forwarding during a disaster, as they did with the fires in Southern California.
You may want to contact your carrier to find out if they have evacuation centers or mobile stores where you can charge your cell phone or call family.