With 2006 Hurricane Season Soon To Begin, Floridians Urged To Make Emergency Communications Plans

BOCA RATON, FL — With another active hurricane season predicted this year, Floridians are urged to prepare an emergency communications plan for the 2006 storm season set to begin June 1. Verizon Wireless, which made intensive preparations to maintain strong network coverage during the extraordinary storms seasons of 2004 and 2005, offers residents these tips to be safer during hurricanes and other times of crisis:

  • Keep wireless phone 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. This year, Floridians may purchase cell phone batteries and car chargers tax-free from May 21 to June 1.

  • Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.

  • Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers — police, fire, and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; family, friends and co-workers; etc. — and program them into your phone.

  • Distribute wireless phone numbers to family members and friends.

  • Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you will be away from your home or have to evacuate.

"We've seen that preparation equals performance in emergencies as well as everyday, and we want to help residents communicate and stay safe before, during and after storms," said Mike Lanman, Verizon Wireless Florida region president.

The company also urges the following actions once a storm is on the way:

  • Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.

  • Send brief TXT messages rather than voice calls for the same reasons as above.

  • Check weather and news reports available on many internet-connected and other wireless phones applications when power is out.

Verizon Wireless has continued the comprehensive preparations and large investments that kept its network strong even through the destructive storms of past years, while other communication networks often were adversely impacted.

These efforts include:

  • Fine-tuning the company's digital network across the state to add call capacity in threatened areas before the storm hits. Rolling out teams of "test men" in specially-equipped vehicles to check the network before and after storms.

  • About 80 percent of Verizon Wireless transmission sites in Florida have their own generators to keep the network operating during power outages.

  • Strategically positioning fleets of mobile generators and mobile cell sites to be deployed immediately in any hard-hit areas. The company has dozens of Cells on Wheels (COWS) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTS), which are self-powered transmitters that can be rolled into areas that need extra network capacity.

  • Pre-arranging fuel delivery to the mobile units and generators at permanent cell sites to keep the network operating at full strength even if power is lost for an extended period of time.

  • The company recently completed a $40 million, 36,000-square-foot switching facility near Orlando to serve as a main emergency operations center. The structure is designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and is equipped with system redundancies and large-scale back-up power generation. Similar network operations facilities are located in Jacksonville, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Jupiter.

The new Orlando facility and other network-strengthening efforts are part of an investment exceeding $1 billion in Florida alone over the past six years. Nationally, Verizon Wireless has spent more than $30 billion during that time to build and strengthen its digital wireless network.

For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com.

Test Man Ride-Along Program The specially equipped Verizon Wireless test vehicles simultaneously test seven wireless providers, using a computerized program to generate phonically diverse "conversations" and data transmissions. Members of the media who are interested in setting up an interview or ride-along with a local member of the Verizon Wireless team of real-life test men and women, please contact Chuck Hamby at 813-615-4803 or via email at chuck.hamby@verizonwireless.com.  

About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 51.3 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.