Disaster Preparedness for 9-1-1 and the 2011 Hurricane Season
Know all of the options you have to communicate with 9-1-1 during an emergency, including all of your family members’ wireless phones and/or your home phone. In an emergency, having a dependable connection to dial 9-1-1 is essential. The more ways you have to contact 9-1-1 and reach emergency assistance, the better. Review existing communications devices and determine whether family members would benefit by adding any services or phones that enable everyone to stay connected.
To help keep 9-1-1 calls down from outside area have a family communications plan in place. Designate someone out of the area as a central contact, and make certain that all family members know whom to contact if they become separated.
Most important, practice your emergency plans in advance.
First, Landlines (Home or Business)
Be sure you have a "Hurricane Phone." It's a good idea to have a regular type wired line phone on hand that is not dependent on electricity in case of a power outage. Cordless landline telephones usually have receivers that are electrically charged, so they won't work if you lose your power. Also multi line phones may need electricity. You can purchase an inexpensive phone to keep in your Hurricane Tool Box for as little as $5.00.
Forward your home number to your wireless number in the event of an evacuation or if family members need to check on you with telephone wires down due to storm damage.
Secondly, Cellular Phones
Program all of your emergency contact numbers with the area codes (even in your area) and e-mail addresses into your mobile phone. Numbers should include the most important numbers you may need such as Doctor, pharmacy, 9-1-1, as well as your family members.
Keep your wireless phone batteries charged at all times. Have an alternative plan to recharge your battery in case of a power outage, such as charging your wireless device by using your car charger, generator or having extra mobile phone batteries or disposable mobile phone batteries on hand.
Keep your wireless phone dry. The biggest threat to your device during a hurricane is water, so keep your equipment safe from the elements by storing it in a baggie or some other type of protective covering.
If you have an old cell phone that is still operational along with the charger, you may want to put this in your Hurricane Tool Box as well as a back up. This phone will be able to call 9-1-1, even without service, if you were to need help.
Try text messaging your family if voice does not seem to work. During an emergency situation, text messages may go through more quickly than voice calls because they require fewer network resources.
IMPORTANT – YOU CANNOT TEXT TO 9-1-1 AT THIS TIME, but you may notify a family member you need help.
Thirdly, VoIP phones
If your computer looses power your VoIP phones will not work so make sure your computer is on an auxiliary power source as well as your IP provider.
You may need to try a normal land line phone in your house jack to ensure you can still call 9-1-1 over the wired network.
Lastly, Telephone Service associated with a Cable TV provider
Some cable TV companies tie into existing telephone lines within your building. If this is the case you may just have to unplug the telephone wire from the modem to your phone jack and normal service will be restored for 9-1-1 purposes.
Others tie into your building system at the phone junction box and cannot be used in the same manner. You will have to keep electricity to the modem in this case in order to have any phone service.
Keep non-emergency calls to a minimum, and limit your calls to the most important ones. If there is severe weather, chances are many people will be attempting to place calls to loved ones, friends and business associates.
Additional information and tips for disaster preparedness may be found with your phone vendor.