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

WILMINGTON, NC — With another active hurricane season predicted this year, residents along the coast of the Tarheel State 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 storm seasons of 2004 and 2005, offers residents these tips to be safer during hurricanes and other crises:

  • 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.

  • 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.

"Verizon Wireless invests billions annually to ensure network capacity, and we saw during last year's devastating hurricane season that our preparation and investment during the year helped keep our network up and running so our customers could get in touch with family and friends," said Jerry Fountain, president, Verizon Wireless Carolinas/Tennessee Region. "So, it is never to soon to make sure you have the necessary supplies to see you through what is expected to be another busy hurricane season."

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 text 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 94 percent of Verizon Wireless transmission sites in the Carolinas 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.

Nationally, Verizon Wireless has spent more than $30 billion over the past six years to build and strengthen its digital wireless network. For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com.

Test Man Ride-Along ProgramThe 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 Robin Blackwood or via email at robinb@jdpr.com.

About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 53 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.