With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the east coast, safety is on everyone’s mind. And a key to safety during times of crisis is communication.
Back in June, Gregg Riddle, President of the Daytona Beach-based Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International, penned a helpful op-ed for the Daytona Beach News-Journal with tips on how you — with the help of your smartphone — can play a role in helping protect yourself and your family during natural disasters:
• Keep your phone fully charged, and keep it dry by placing it in a sealable plastic bag if you will be in an area where you may be exposed to water.
• Forward your home number to your wireless phone, so you are able to receive all calls regardless of your location.
• Learn community hurricane-evacuation routes and how to find shelter on higher ground. Location-based mapping on your smartphone can help with this.
• Make a family communications plan. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, you should identify a contact out-of-state who can take calls from household members. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members. Also, be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cellphone, coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. If you have a cellphone, program that contact person as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to contact someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
Riddle also highlighted the role app developers now play by creating useful storm-tracking tools, and how wireless providers — via investment and innovation — work overtime to help affected areas stay connected:
As part of a commitment to emergency preparedness, wireless carriers are also taking numerous steps to be ready for emergencies, such as adding capacity to their wireless networks to support increased call volume, including emergency 9-1-1 calls and setting up portable generators. After a storm, carrier-driven response efforts include deploying mobile cell sites and command centers, emergency-communications vehicles, and even a self-sufficient “base camp” for communications-recovery workers.
Riddle’s full op-ed is definitely worth checking out. Stay safe everyone!