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Communicating in an Emergency
and adapted from
by: Jamie Barnett,
Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
August 27th, 2011
Recommended Practices for All Users
It is important for consumers to keep in mind that during an
emergency, many more people are trying to use their wireless and
wireline telephones at the same time when compared to normal calling
activity. When more people try to call at the same time, the increased
calling volume may create network congestion.
Limit non-emergency phone
calls. This will minimize network congestion, free up “space” on the
network for emergency communications and conserve battery power if
you are using a wireless phone.
Keep all phone calls
brief. If you need to use a phone, try to use it only to convey
vital information to emergency personnel and/or family.
Try text messaging, also
known as short messaging service (SMS) when using your wireless
phone. In many cases text messages will go through when your call
may not. It will also help free up more “space” for emergency
communications on the telephone network.
If possible, try a
variety of communications services if you are unsuccessful in
getting through with one. For example, if you are unsuccessful in
getting through on your wireless phone, try a messaging capability
like text messaging or email. Alternatively, try a landline phone if
one is available. This will help spread the communications demand
over multiple networks and should reduce overall congestion.
Wait 10 seconds before
redialing a call. On many wireless handsets, to re-dial a number,
you simply push “send” after you’ve ended a call to redial the
previous number. If you do this too quickly, the data from the
handset to the cell sites do not have enough time to clear before
you’ve resent the same data. This contributes to a clogged network.
Have charged batteries
and car-charger adapters available for backup power for your
Maintain a list of
emergency phone numbers in your phone.
If in your vehicle, try
to place calls while your vehicle is stationary.
Have a family
communications plan in place. Designate someone out of the area as a
central contact, and make certain all family members know who to
contact if they become separated.
If you have Call
Forwarding on your home number, forward your home number to your
wireless number in the event of an evacuation. That way you will get
incoming calls from your landline phone.
After the storm (or other
emergency) has passed, if you lose power in your home, try using
your car to charge cell phones or listen to news alerts on the car
radio. But be careful – don’t try to reach your car if it is not
safe to do so, and remain vigilant about carbon monoxide emissions
from your car if it is a closed space, such as a garage.
Tune-in to broadcast and
radio news for important news alerts.
Recommended Practices for People with
Register with your local
Police Department. Remind them to keep a record of the help you may
need during an evacuation, power outage or other emergency.
If you have a Personal
Care Attendant, work with that person to decide how you will
communicate with each other, such as by cell phone, if you are
separated during an emergency;
Consider getting a
medical alert system that will allow you to call for help if you are
immobilized in an emergency. Most alert systems require a working
phone line, so have a back up such as a cell phone or pager if the
landlines are disrupted; and
Learn about devices such
as personal digital assistants (PDAs), text radio, pagers, etc. that
can help you receive emergency instructions and warnings from local
officials. Tip: Learn about NOAA Weather Radio for the hearing
Visit Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website at:
http://www.fema.gov/plan/prepare/specialplans.shtm for more
Recommended Practices for Communications
Work with local emergency
services personnel and large communications users (e.g., enterprise
customers and campus environments) to develop plans for managing
communications surges during emergencies;
Have procedures in place
for provisioning additional capacity rapidly to areas that are
experiencing surges in demand for communications services due to
emergencies. These procedures are especially important for trunks
that interconnect local switches with 911 tandems;
Include information in
billing/marketing distributions to customers advising them of
practices that they should follow when trying to communicate in an
Work with 911 call
centers to help design and implement solutions that will enable them
to manage heavy call volume during emergencies;
Ensure that critical 911
circuits are registered with Telecommunications Service Priority to
expedite restoration of service;
Consider placing and
maintaining 911 circuits over diverse interoffice transport
facilities (e.g., geographically diverse facility routes,
automatically invoked standby routing, diverse digital cross-connect
system services, self-healing fiber ring topologies, or any
combination thereof); and
Move network access away
from the 911 tandem during surge events that accompany an emergency.
If you need to find a shelter, Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to
43362. Pass this msg via text to friends/family impacted.
Further helpful information can be found at:
Amateur Radio Operators Can Help
by: Rick Sawyer, WV8DOC, Wood County
can’t reach friends and family with emergency information, maybe your
neighborhood Amateur (Ham) Radio Operator can help. Before an
emergency occurs, look around your neighborhood for houses and
vehicles with strange-looking antennas that may signal the presence of
a Ham Operator.
also have personalized license plates with their call sign on them, or
decals on their car that indicate affiliation with one or more
emergency radio service. Look for a license plate or windshield
sticker that looks like one of these.
emergency happens, ask your neighborhood Ham Operator if he/she is
willing to provide communications assistance in the event of an
emergency. Most of the members of these organizations and networks
also have the ability to operate their radio equipment on batteries,
generators, or other sources of emergency power.
nationwide Amateur Radio community provides a “health and welfare”
information network in conjunction with the American Red Cross that
helps families find each other and pass emergency messages during
emergencies and disaster situations.
County Emergency Communications (WCEC) is an Amateur Radio
organization here in your community that provides such services, and
they will also help you become a licensed Radio Amateur yourself. It
is no longer necessary to learn Morse Code to be a
Radio Amateur, and you can learn all you need to get your license
in about a week or so (less if you really apply yourself). There is a
fee of $15 to take the license examination (which WCEC volunteers
administer once a month), your license fee with the FCC is only $10
for ten years, and you can buy a very serviceable hand-held radio
(walkie-talkie) on the 2-meter band (the most widely-used frequency
band for local communication) for under $150.
really no reason for you to not be able to communicate effectively in
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