Are you ‘Tech Ready’ for a disaster?

In our increasingly technologically reliant society, people are finding new ways to communicate during and after a disaster. For example, during the Japanese crisis and East Coast earthquake people went for their mobile phones and computers to tell their family and friends what was going on. More Americans are using social media and technology in emergencies, and to help people understand and prepare the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) joined together to present a new tip list for How to Communicate Before, During and After a Major Disaster.

The list contains some key information for us to remember as we keep upgrading, and I’ve listed a few of the major tips below…

  • Does your household rely on cordless phones for your landline? Cordless phones require power both at the handheld units and the base station, which will likely be unavailable during a major disaster. It is recommended that you keep at least one traditional cord-based phone around the house.
  • Keep emergency contact information in your cell phone, and subscribe to text alert systems that many state and local governments are starting to offer.
  • After a disaster hits, if you lose power try to keep your cell phone charged. You can reduce the brightness settings, close apps, and put the phone in airplane mode to conserve power. Keep a car charger handy to recharge it if needed.
  • With a smart phone or other mobile device using a cell network, a natural reaction can be to go online and watch streaming media to find out what is going on. Resist the urge as it can add to network congestion that can hinder emergency response. Keep a battery powered or hand cranked radio handy instead.
  • For non-emergency communications use text messaging, e-mail, and social media. In addition, they suggest using the American Red Cross Safe and Well website. If you do need to make a phone call, try to keep it brief.
  • For more tips, visit the How to Communicate Before, During and After a Major Disaster and’s Get A Kit – Get Tech Ready websites.

    Photo: CNN


    • Hey Scott,
      This is a great guide to communication during emergencies. Keeping your phone in Airplane mode was a concept I didn't realize was so important for conserving energy. Is it expensive to set up a cord based phone?
      What do phone bills even look like anymore?

    • Airplane mode is a good 'stand-by' option, however personally I would suggest turning the phone completely off when you don't need to use it. Smartphones like Androids and iPhones consume a lot of power and can go dead pretty fast if you keep using them; I actually keep a 'dumb' phone handy that I can just stick a SIM card in and trust that the battery will last for a few days (just in case!).

      As for landlines, typically local laws require that the lines be maintained for 911 service if you are subscribed or not. I don't exactly know what the situation is like in Oregon. Due to the popularity of mobile phones, there are rather cheap land line options out there that charge based upon the minutes you use or you can use a long-distance phone card.

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