Utilizing Your Cellphone
On Your Phone or Mobile Device
• Keep your contacts updated across all 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 list of your top contacts.
• Learn how to send updates via text and internet from your mobile phone to your contacts and social channels in case voice communications are not available. Text messages and the internet often can work in the event of a phone service disruption.
• Keep extra batteries for your phone in a safe place or purchase a solar-powered or hand crank charger. These chargers are good emergency tools to keep your laptop and other small electronics working in the event of a power outage. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger because you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home.
Program “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) contacts into your cell phone so emergency personnel can contact those people for you if you are unable to use your phone. Let your ICE contacts know that they are programmed into your phone and inform them of any medical issues or other special needs you may have.
• If you have a traditional landline (non-broadband or VOIP) phone, keep at least one non-cordless receiver in your home because it will work even if you lose power.
• If you are evacuated and have call-forwarding on your home phone, forward your home phone number to your cell phone number.
• If you do not have a cellphone, keep a prepaid phone card to use if needed during or after a disaster.
• Prepare a family contact sheet. This should include at least one out-of-town contact that may be better able to reach family members in an emergency.
• Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio or television available (with spare batteries).
Additional tips when making phone calls & using your smartphone during or after a disaster:
• Keep all phone calls brief. If you need to use a phone, try to convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family.
• If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cellphone, wait 10 seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion.
• Conserve your cellphone battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, placing your phone in airplane mode, disabling location, setting to low power or power save mode and closing apps you are not using that draw power, unless you need to use the phone.
• If you lose power, you can charge your cellphone in your car. Just be sure your car is in a well-ventilated place (remove it from the garage) and do not go to your car until any danger has passed. You can also listen to your car radio for important news alerts.
• If you do not have a hands-free device in your car, stop driving or pull over to the side of the road before making a call. Do not text on a cellphone, talk, or tweet without a hands-free device while driving.
• Immediately following a disaster, resist using your mobile device to watch streaming videos, download music or videos, or play video games, all of which can add to network congestion. Limiting use of these services can help potentially life-saving emergency calls get through to 9-1-1.
• For nonemergency communications, use text messaging, e-mail, or social media instead of making voice calls on your cell phone to avoid tying up voice networks. Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion. You can also use social media to post your status to let family and friends know you are OK. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you can use resources such as the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well program.
Getting Documents Tech Ready
Store your important documents such as personal and financial records in a password protected area in the cloud or a secure flash or jump drive that you can keep readily available. A flash drive can be kept on a key ring so it can be accessed from any computer, anytime, anywhere.
Remember important documents such as:
• Personal and property insurance identification
• Driver’s license/passport
• Banking information
Helpful Apps for Hurricane Season
Accuweather: Free – Updated weather info and maps
Florida Radars: $0.99 – Provides eight animated radar images for the state of Florida
Hurricane HD: $2.99 – Shows hurricane tracks and tracking cones using information from NOAA
Hurricane by American Red Cross: Free – Instructions on what to do before, during and after the storm. Get hurricane alerts for your area
FEMA: Free – Preparation tips, supply checklists, disaster resources
Hurricane Supply List: Free – Supplies you will need with reviews
Hurricane Tracker: $2.99 (Portion of the proceeds goes to Red Cross) – Get alerts, real-time tracking information and advisories from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center
NOAA Radar Pro: $1.99 – Detailed radar, no ads
Tropical Satellites: $0.99 – Animated and infrared satellite feeds
The Weather Channel: Free – Updated info… Simple to use, allows user to check multiple locations
Suncoast WX: Free – NOWrad weather radar, weather alerts, GPS and compass