Verizon stands ready to support customers during wildfire season

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IRVINE, CA - The 2020 wildfire season was the worst on record, in terms of acres burned and air quality degradation. This year, experts predict yet another extreme wildfire season in the American West as the drought conditions continue and temperatures rise. For residents throughout the region, having a “go bag” and an evacuation plan is now part of the normal summer routine. Preparing for extreme weather, natural disasters and other emergency situations is something we do all year long at Verizon to make sure our customers can connect with the people and information they need when it matters most.

Being able to communicate during a crisis is critical. That’s why in addition to having backup batteries, Verizon has permanent generators at the majority of our cell sites (towers) and all of our switch locations (network nerve center), which we're able to refuel during extended power outages. These backup energy sources help keep our network running when commercial power is lost.

Verizon is ready:

Verizon has made preparations to ensure the network is ready for wildfire season.

  • Support for first responders: Verizon Frontline is the advanced network and technology that has been built for first responders – developed over nearly three decades of partnership with public safety – to meet their unique needs. During times of crisis, we provide network priority and preemption for first responders at no cost to public safety agencies. This gives first responders access to the network when they need it. Additionally, when disaster strikes, the Verizon Response Team (VRT) is available 24/7 365 days a year to coordinate with first responders to provide essential technologies during a crisis. During wildfires, the VRT will mobilize charging stations, devices, special equipment, emergency vehicles and more to support local, state and federal agencies across the US. More public safety professionals rely on Verizon than any other network.

  • Redundancy Equals Reliability/Backups to the Backups: We use different strategies including backup generators and HVAC systems and redundant fiber rings for cell sites and switching centers to keep the network running and customers connected when commercial power is lost or fire damage occurs.

  • Refueling strategy: We pre-arrange fuel deliveries for our generators in case of a wildfire, with tankers poised and in position to quickly respond to hard-hit areas in the event commercial power is lost.

  • Year-round preparation: We run Emergency Operation Center drills throughout the year to ensure our team is ready and equipped to respond to emergencies.

  • Support for the community: We have mobile Wireless Emergency Communications Centers, Tactical Command Trailers, and Response Trailers ready to deploy to support first responders and community members with recovery efforts.

  • Improved response with drones: We have surveillance drones on standby to help assess and respond to damage from a wildfire, and we have drones that can deliver wireless service to a designated area from the sky.

  • Satellite assets: We have a fleet of new satellite-equipped portable cell sites and have secured dedicated satellite links for connection. If fiber or microwave is damaged due to sustained winds, fire or manual fiber cuts during post-fire recovery work, satellite-enabled portable equipment and dedicated satellite links, along with the fleet of portable generators keep the network running without commercial power

How you can prepare: Do you have a personal communications plan?

Early Summer is a great time to ensure you are ready for the season too. We encourage you to take these steps to ensure your loved ones are ready to communicate during a wildfire.

Device preparation:

  • Ensure all battery-powered devices are fully charged before the wildfire hits. This includes wireless phones and smartphones, laptops, tablets, flashlights and radios.

  • Wireless devices can be a key source of information and communication in the event of an emergency, so be sure to keep phones, tablets, laptops, batteries, chargers and other equipment in dry, accessible locations like re-sealable plastic bags, dry bags or waterproof cases.

  • In case of evacuation, pack spare wall and vehicle chargers in your go-bag, and have portable device chargers fully charged and next to your device.

Know and back up your info:

  • Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers and email addresses, including police, fire and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; and family, friends and co-workers. Program them into your phone, smartphone, tablet or laptop and also have a hard copy handy, someplace easily accessible.

  • Backup your information on Verizon Cloud - Verizon offers backup assistance through the Verizon Cloud to store your phone’s address book and contact information as well as pictures and other content on a secure server.

  • Record video/take photos of your possessions in your residence before severe weather hits.

Bookmark resources:

  • Download weather applications and alerts that provide users with a variety of information such as radar images, forecasts and high-wind warnings.

  • Program your smartphone to receive emergency alerts. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are free wireless notifications that are delivered to your mobile device by local/national public safety organizations.

  • Also in case of evacuation, bookmark your emergency resources on your phone so you can research any special restrictions, limitations or instructions if you need emergency shelter, medical care or other support that may be impacted by COVID-19.

  • Review additional tips for preparing your home for disaster during a pandemic at the American Red Cross disaster page.

How businesses and government organizations can prepare and stay connected

Businesses and governments know the importance of wildfire preparedness. This year, with so much of the workforce working remotely, contingency planning is even more critical. We offer customers products and services that can help disaster-proof communications and enable business continuity. It’s also a good time to review readiness plans.

Suggested steps for businesses and government organizations include:

  • Make sure you have contact information updated and readily available for all employees.

  • Make copies of insurance documents, review insurance coverages and update as appropriate.

  • Ensure employees working from home have documented all corporate equipment being used to work from home in case of damage or loss.

  • Ensure you have a backup plan to shift work in case work-from-home employees in a wildfire-impacted area have to evacuate their home or their home loses commercial power.

This wildfire season is predicted to be an active one, and Verizon is crisis-ready and crisis-proven.

**Editor’s Note: Access images and b-roll for Verizon equipment, recovery efforts and more.

For information on Storm Updates throughout the season, please visit our Emergency Resource Center:

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