Every year, natural disasters uproot homes and families. And when an earthquake or hurricane struck in the past, it could be weeks before friends and families were reunited. With lines of communication and transportation disrupted, there was often no way to get messages or people in or out of the area. Not only were people in the dark about loved ones, it was difficult for those in need to seek the help, and vital business and civic functions were halted.
Things today are very different. People with loved ones on the East Coast during the recent earthquake and Hurricane Irene often simply checked Facebook to see how they were faring. Posts such as, “Power is down, but we are doing fine,” obviously would not have been possible in the past. With downed power and landlines, it was the cell phone that kept us connected. Cell phones, however, are not bullet-proof in a disaster. Take a few steps to make certain your cell phone remains a lifeline in any storm.
- Cell phones are amazing when power and landline phones are disrupted. However, they are only as useful as long as you have a charge. If you have storm warnings, pre-charge every phone in the house as long as you can. Invest in back-up batteries which you also keep charged. Keep car chargers in your car so that you can use it if your power fails. Just watch your car battery! You can also purchase a hand-crank cell phone charger. It takes arm work, but it will be worth it!
- Many natural disasters strike without warning, and either we can’t get to our cell phone in time, or it may be destroyed. So, invest in a disposable cell phone now for such emergencies. They are relatively inexpensive and are well worth the cost when you need them. For instance, if you live in a tornado-prone area, you likely have a go-to “safe” room. Keep a cell phone there. Keep one in your car where it may be better protected and immediately available if you are escaping the area. And since most of us no longer memorize numbers, don’t forget to add important numbers to your phone.
- Sadly, many people can’t afford the unexpected. Especially in this economy, more businesses are devastated by even short closings, and many workers live paycheck to paycheck. Cell phones, however, allow many to continue some level of work even without power or a workplace. For those who need to keep working, make sure even personal phones contain all your business contacts. To represent your business while keeping your personal cell phone number protected, use caller ID spoofing when making business calls and select your corporate number as the display number. Similarly, if you must use a work cell phone to make personal calls during emergencies, cloak your business number so that it is not used in the future to reach you for personal reasons.
- Finally, even cell phones are fallible. During massive natural disasters, networks can fail, and lines are often frozen by a high velocity of users. Therefore, always have a back-up plan in case your family members cannot reach each other. Make certain everyone memorizes phone numbers for contacts outside the area who can pass along messages. And arrange a meeting place in case you are separated, such as a local fire department or school.
By combining technology with a little forethought, you and your loved ones can be ready for even the unexpected.
About the Author: Dave Smith is a Marketing Associate at Itellas, a leading provider of caller ID spoofing services. For more information about call spoofing, please visit www.itellas.com.