Hurricane Preparedness Week 2016: wireless tech tips and tools

By: Jenny Weaver
Hurricane Preparedness Week 2016

January’s Hurricane Alex already is in the books, though the 2016 Hurricane Season “officially” begins June 1. Despite the early activity this year, initial predictions call for a near-average season – but for anyone in the path of a hurricane, the experience is anything but average.

To help customers connect with their families and the resources they need when bad weather threatens, our network teams prepare year-round for natural disasters and other emergencies. You should be ready, too.

Here are five Hurricane Preparedness Week tips to help you and your family plan ahead:

1. Make sure the whole family is prepared to communicate. Store phones, tablets, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.  Simple zip-lock storage bags will shield devices, and today there are many waterproof phones, cases and other protective accessories. When severe weather hits, send brief text messages to limit voice calls to conserve battery and free up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.

2. Plan ahead for connectivity in case power is lost. Keep phone and tablet batteries fully charged – in case local power is lost – well before warnings are issued. Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power. Numerous chargers, including solar-powered and hand-cranked devices, make it simple to stay powered up.

3. Know how to track the storm. Choose from hundreds of free weather-, news- and safety-related apps and services for smartphones and tablets, the American Red Cross app, The Weather Channel, Weather Underground, and NOAA Now and other mobile resources from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

4. Save important contacts ahead of the storm. Maintain a list of emergency numbers – police and fire agencies; power and insurance companies; family, friends and co-workers; etc. – and program them into your wireless devices before an emergency arises. Use your tablet to photograph and catalogue your valuables and other household belongings for possible insurance claims. Also, use a free service such as Verizon Cloud, which provides 5GB of data storage, to save your contacts and other important information on a secure server in case your phone or tablet is lost or damaged.

5. Choose a wireless company with a track record of running to a crisis. The Verizon network is built from the ground up to be the most reliable for individuals, businesses, emergency responders and anyone who needs to stay connected. Better matters, everyday and especially in the case of an emergency. Verizon has a long track record of doing all it can to keep our networks – and our customers – connected.

Learn more about staying prepared and connected when disaster strikes.

Jenny Weaver is an external communications manager for Verizon, focusing on network densification and performance, as well as customer experience operations and initiatives. She has more than 15 years of experience with Verizon and has represented the company on nonprofit boards including domestic violence and sustainability.