Communicating During an Emergency
Whether it is a big natural disaster, or a terrorist attack, or even something that is not of national significance, the chances are that we will all face some kind of serious emergency at some point in our lifetimes. And in recent years, it seems as though such occurrences are becoming more and more likely. One of the biggest problems that people face, when hit with such emergencies, is that it becomes difficult to contact the people who they love. Whenever there is a disaster, such as the tornado in Oklahoma, or the bombings at the Boston marathon, cell phone service is often jammed, due to the sheer amount of people who are trying to contact their loved ones. And that is if you are lucky enough to even have a phone still intact, with which you can call people. For this reason, there are special preparations that need to be made in the case of an emergency. Here is a guide to communicating during an emergency.
General Tips on Communicating
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has put together some guidelines to follow when trying to communicate during an emergency. Some of the most important tips are as follows:
- Limit your phone calls, especially non-emergency ones, to free up space on the network and conserve battery power.
- When you do call, keep it brief.
- Try texting rather than calling, you may find that it goes through more easily.
- Try other messaging services, such as email.
- Keep your phone well charged, and keep back-up batteries if necessary.
- Try to stay in the same place while you are placing a phone call.
- Listen for emergency alerts on a radio if the power is out.
- Designate a person who is out of the area to be your family’s emergency contact, so that everyone in your family knows who to contact should you get separated.
Making Emergency Calls
You may be injured, trapped, or witness other kinds of emergencies that require assistance from emergency services. The FCC also has instructions for making such phone calls. Some suggestions include having a backup form of communication in case the power is out, and listening for emergency alerts on the radio and on television. It also offers instructions for calling 911 in emergency situations. Authorities often learn about big emergencies through 911 calls, so don’t hesitate to call, even if you think that many other people might be doing the same.
Make a Plan
The Federal Emergency Management Association also offers emergency preparation advice, through its website ready.gov. On here, they stress the importance of making a plan that all of your family can learn and follow. This includes an emergency communication plan, and a meeting point for if you get separated. This should allow for emergencies that may occur when you are all at home, as well as emergencies that might happen when you are in different places, such as school, work, daycare, sporting events, commuting, or faith organizations. Ready.gov has a downloadable plan on its website, and recommends that you send it to all of your family and friends, keep a copy in your car and with your food storage, and practice a few times until you all know it well.
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