With 2007 Hurricane Season Soon To Begin, Floridians Urged To Make Emergency Communications Plans

BOCA RATON, FL — Floridians were fortunate to be spared from hurricanes in 2006, but forecasters predict an active hurricane season for this year. As the 2007 storm season is set to begin June 1, residents are urged to prepare an emergency communications plan to be ready for hurricanes and other crises.

Verizon Wireless, which makes intensive preparations to maintain strong network coverage during and after the storms, offers residents these tips to be safer during hurricanes:

  • 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 June 1 to June 12.

  • 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 Pam Tope, Verizon Wireless Florida region president. "We're confident we will again provide stand-out reliability with the great work of our test teams, all of our staff and company-wide preparation."

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.

  • More than 80 percent of Verizon Wireless transmission sites in Florida have their own generators to keep the network operating during power outages, and more than 200 portable generators to further strengthen the network.

  • Strategically positioning fleets of 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.

  • Verizon Wireless is again fully prepared to quickly set up wireless emergency communication centers (WECCs) to serve residents and rescue agencies in the area(s) of greatest need.

  • The company has expanded its EV-DO wireless broadband network, including launching its highest-speed Rev. A network across the state. This allows the most advanced wireless services (downloads, location-based applications, video messaging, etc.) and makes the network more robust for usage by residents and emergency agencies, especially during crises. Rev. A technology features typical download speeds of 600 kilobits per second (kbps) and average upload speeds of 500-800 kbps.

  • The recent acquisition of a $150,000 disaster response trailer that can be used as a temporary customer service location in areas impacted by a disaster. The 35-foot long trailer, which features an air-conditioned canopy area, also provides access to phones, accessories and EV-DO services for residents.

The new technologies, facilities and other network-strengthening efforts are part of an investment exceeding $1.5 billion in the state over the past seven years. Nationally, Verizon Wireless has invested $37 billion in the last seven years -- $5 billion on average every year since the company was formed -- to increase the coverage and capacity of its national network and to add new services.

Note: To accompany a Verizon Wireless Test Man, visit one of the company's Emergency Command Centers or other technology/facility, contact Chuck Hamby at 813-615-4803.

About Verizon Wireless Verizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving 60.7 million customers. The largest US wireless company and largest wireless data provider, based on revenues, Verizon Wireless is headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 66,000 employees nationwide. The company 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.