During a disaster, many times the first casualty is the communication tower, methods or devices. Cell phones, email, landlines and many other communication methods become unavailable during, and immediately following, a disaster.
At an office or school, a communications department or president communicates important messages to employees, as a teacher directs students. They serve as the main point of contact. During a disaster, establishing your family’s point of contact is essential, especially with children. This point of contact can serve the role both internally, in the family, and externally, to people looking to contact the family. Also, ensure the point of contact is easily identified. Do this by labeling them as ICE—in case of emergency—contacts in a cell phone or other easily accessible location.
While communication means may crash during or after disasters, they can also be a lifesaver when working properly. During disasters, despite a cell phone’s lack of ability to dial out, sending text messages can still be successful.
Communication technology can also be advantageous during a disaster. Consider the following techniques and tips:
Purchase an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for your Internet router. This provides an extra 15 minutes of power life after a home’s power goes out. This can give a house time to send out emergency alerts to other family members and friends. Or call for help in the event it is needed. These devices retail for around $100.
While landline phones are slowly disappearing, they can prove valuable in times of crisis. However, be sure to avoid cordless phones that have trouble working when the power is out.
Also, if you are away from your home but have Internet access, log on to popular sites such as Facebook to alert people that you are OK or need help. The Red Cross’s Safe and Well program allows people to log on and list themselves as “safe and well.”
It may not prevent the disaster itself, but having a plan helps keep the crisis at bay, or at least somewhat under control. Planning is essential to wading through a disaster.