Verizon’s network stands ready to handle extreme heat, rolling power outages and wildfires

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Photo by David Tovar on Unsplash

IRVINE, CA - As a record-breaking heat wave in California and the western states has residents enduring rolling power outages, hundreds of wildfires are threatening urban, suburban and rural areas across the region. We’re committed to making sure Verizon customers can connect with the people and get the information they need when it matters most.

We know how important it is for customers to stay connected during a crisis. 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 has made preparations to ensure our network is ready for power outages and wildfires in the Western states.

  • Support for first responders: More public safety professionals rely on Verizon than any other network. 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 mobilizes charging stations, devices, special equipment, emergency vehicles and more to support local, state and federal agencies across the US. We are currently providing communications support to multiple fire command units in California.

  • COVID-19 safety for field teams: We have worked to ensure we have the necessary personal equipment and processes in place for our field teams who may have to enter highly populated areas like shelters or operations centers. We have virtualized many command center functions to make it easier for our engineers working on network repairs and deploying mobile assets to remain socially distanced

  • Redundancy equals reliability/Backups for the backups: We employ backup generators and HVAC systems, as well as redundant fiber rings for hub sites and switching centers to keep the network running and customers connected when commercial power is lost or water damage occurs

  • 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

  • Drones: We have surveillance drones on standby to help assess damage from a wildfire

  • 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 by fire or other causes, access and space permitting, we can deploy satellite-enabled portable equipment and dedicated satellite links, along with the fleet of portable generators keep the network running without commercial power

  • Comprehensive fleet management: When wildfires strike, it’s critical for mobile businesses to know where their people, assets and vehicles are. The Verizon Connect fleet management platform provides greater visibility and situational awareness to help move people and assets out of harm’s way and plan a more coordinated return to business once the fire has been fully contained and evacuation orders have been lifted.

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

Any time is a great time to ensure you are ready for wildfires.

We encourage you to take these steps to ensure your loved ones are ready to communicate during any crisis.

Device preparation:

  • Ensure all battery-powered devices are fully charged. 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, make sure you know where your chargers are, both wall and vehicle charging cords, 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 severe weather 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.

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 fire-impacted area have to evacuate their home or their home loses commercial power

Wildfire season is year-round in the west, and Verizon is crisis-ready and crisis-proven.

Emergency preparation and safety tips

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