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As the end of May approaches, many towns, cities and states across America will be hoping that this summer passes quietly from a severe storm perspective. Officially, June 1st marks the start of hurricane season – but extreme weather is no respecter of the calendar. Indeed, “being ready” for the unexpected is a year-round occupation for us at Verizon.
Thankfully, modern weather forecasting and monitoring techniques means that we often have early warnings of violent storms and their predicted path. We are less likely to be caught totally unaware these days.
Throughout the year, Verizon invests time, money, and other resources in being ready for the difficulties and challenges we hope that neither you nor we have to face from nature. And here’s the good news – it’s not too late for you to do something to be ready as well. And many of the things that you can do now to be ready should disaster strike are either free or very low-cost.
So, from us to you, here is Verizon’s Virtual Survival Kit. It contains many things you can do to be prepared for the worst, and to get through the aftermath if you are affected.
Virtual “Being Ready” Survival Kit:
There are some great apps out there that can give you alerts and guidance when extreme weather hits – apps from groups like FEMA and the Red Cross, for example.
Also review and bookmark mobile web sites like ready.gov – and subscribe to weather warnings, too. Many modern cell phones are capable of receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts, which are sent by emergency authorities when there is a risk in the area of, for example, a flash flood or tornado. These settings can be adjusted, so it is important to make sure these alerts are set up properly in your phone.
Bookmark local information services and join appropriate Facebook communities – just search on Facebook for any community groups about your neighborhood and nearby towns, or for any pages set up by your local media. You might not think of Facebook as an important news source, but last year, during the forest fires that swept through Washington State, the local newspaper’s Facebook page became a key source of sharing information among the community – who needs help, who has help to offer, etc. Get those online and social media connections in place now so that you can access them easily if or when you need them.
Make sure you have set up “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) contact numbers in your phone so anyone who finds your phone can call your emergency contact. Many people have two or three numbers listed in their phone’s contact list as ICE1, 2 and 3 – these could be the home or mobile numbers of three close family members or friends.
During any emergency situation, text or Internet messaging is generally the best method of communication. They not only cause less network congestion – and that’s vital for the relief teams trying to restore normal services – they also help to conserve battery life. If you use an Internet message service like WhatsApp, Skype, or Facebook Messenger, it is a good idea to set up a “friends and family” group now. It is easy to create a group and send one message that goes to the full group – saving battery life and making it easy to let everyone quickly know you are safe.
Speaking of battery life: Do you have spare batteries for your cell phone – or external power packs that you can connect your phone, tablet or other devices to when their power runs low? There’s a wide range from which to choose. Having the power to communicate is one of the most important requirements during an emergency situation.
Having an extra battery pack is a big advantage, but so is a means of re-charging either your phone or the battery pack that does not depend on a standard power supply. There’s a wide range of solar-charging devices, car chargers, alternative energy chargers and even hand-crank tools available. They are all worth considering and including in your virtual survival kit.
So now is the time to put together your virtual survival kit, so that it’s ready if you ever need it. I hope you don’t, but it’s much better to be ready.