When Disaster Strikes: How To Stay Safe And Connected

Your phone is a key part of your disaster preparedness plan. Be sure you know how to make the most of it.

Most of the time, we use our phones to stay productive and have fun. They let us take photos and save us from boring commutes. On the other hand, cell phones are much more than just a way to stay entertained. When a disaster occurs, they may be our only lifeline to emergency services and critical information. Whether you're concerned about wildfires or prepping for hurricane safety, your phone should be part of any disaster preparedness plan. Make sure you’re ready for emergency situations with a few simple tips from Straight Talk.

How Disasters Affect Phones

When serious weather conditions are on the way, an emergency occurs, or you're dealing with the aftermath, your first instinct may be to reach for your phone. However, keep in mind that high winds, rising waters, and earthquakes can all interrupt service. During extreme weather events, local cell towers may be damaged, just as homes and businesses are. If so, connectivity will be limited until repairs can be made, and when dangerous conditions are ongoing, this takes time.

And don’t forget that this damaged equipment will be experiencing a higher volume than at any other time. A disaster leads to huge numbers of phone calls, texts, and countless page refreshes. You're also competing for bandwidth with everyone trying to seek help or confirm a loved one's safety on social media. Because of this, connections tend to be poor, and you may not be able to connect right away or at all.

Staying Connected

Your best bet is to text rather than make phone calls.

When it's time to reach out, your best bet is to text rather than make phone calls. While your calls can easily get tangled in network congestion, text messages send fast. They're a great way to check in on family members and confirm meeting spots without clogging up the lines any further.

There are some cases, however, when you have no choice but to make a call. Make sure you reserve calls for only the most important situations, such as dialing 9-1-1. If you get a busy signal, hang up and wait for at least 10 seconds. This gives your call data a chance to clear the network, allowing you to dial again without immediately being blocked.

One last note: don't depend on social media for help. While we've all heard stories about rescues via Facebook and Twitter, first responders aren't checking these platforms first and may not be aware of your need for assistance. Emergency service providers agree that 9-1-1 and other official channels should always be the default, although social media can keep you up-to-date on family and local news.

What Else Can You Do?

In addition to being aware of the impact of disasters on your network, you can take some simple steps to stay connected. Just a few include:

  • Keep your phone powered up, and have chargers and battery packs on hand. Consider a waterproof, shatter-resistant case to keep your device safe as well.
  • Dim your screen, and turn off background data refresh, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.
  • Program emergency contacts into your phone, and label them with (ICE).
  • Enable location tracking to help you find loved ones if you get separated.
  • Sign up for free Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).
  • Make sure your service plan is current.

Above all, you want to avoid unnecessary use that can run down your battery. If your phone no longer holds a charge or has connectivity issues, you may also want to consider upgrading to a new phone from Straight Talk.

Be Ready For Anything

Your phone plays a key role in your disaster recovery plan, and Straight Talk is committed to providing you with the quality of service needed to keep you connected no matter what. Our goal is to always give you everything for less, even when circumstances beyond control may limit network connectivity. To learn more about our commitment to no-nonsense wireless service no matter what, visit us online today.