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January 5, 2016

Create a Personal Emergency Communications Plan to Ensure Your Family’s Safety

Our partner, Verizon Wireless offers the following tips to help wireless customers prepare an emergency communications plan and stay connected in the event of an emergency:

Stay connected:

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.
Store the number of a person to contact in your phone book under ICE (In Case of Emergency) so authorities know who to call in an emergency should you be unable to.
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.
If your wireless device has texting capabilities, practice sending text messages. (Most have texting capability, but check before you need it.)
Set up all social media and email accounts for you, your family and friends on all wireless phones, tablets and other devices as a method of communication and means to alert contacts of your status and location.
Set up your work email and server log-in (when allowed) to your wireless device to stay updated with co-workers and projects as necessary. 
Develop a systematic evacuation and communications plan with family and friends that includes what to do, who calls who, where to go, and what supplies and items you will take with you.  This may include updating social media sites to provide updates about your status or location.

Take care of your wireless devices:

Keep additional batteries charged and nearby.
Keep car-charger adapters to charge your devices while on the road.
Utilize a universal portable power pack with a micro USB connection to charge various types of devices.
Use covers for devices to help protect them if dropped.
Keep phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location  For example if you are concerned about severe weather or flooding, is a good idea to put them in a re-sealable plastic bag.

Know and use special Verizon Wireless services:

Back-up Assistant is Verizon’s free application that stores your phone’s address book and contact information on a secure server in case the phone is lost or damaged.
Weather applications and alerts provide users with a variety of information about weather conditions, such as radar images, forecasts, and severe storm warnings.
Location based services provide peace of mind, so that you know where your family members are located.  Specialized devices can provide single-button notification services for medical or other emergencies.

Verizon Wireless offers these wireless tips to stay connected and informed:

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 – often text messages get through when wireless networks are overtaxed during a crisis.
Check weather and news reports available through many Internet-connected wireless phones, and through other wireless phone applications, when power is out.
Download apps and subscribe to alerts from aid and relief organizations such as the American Red Cross’ apps for first-aid, hurricane and shelter and FEMA’s Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS).
In extreme conditions when your battery is running low and you are unable to charge it, consider conserving battery life:
Establish an “on air” time as part of your emergency communications plan with family and friends during which you power up your wireless device to take calls or messages during designated times.
Turn off background data applications or Wi-Fi search services if you have a wireless device that is capable of these communications. (Note that your device will not receive alerts while data is turned off.)

Other general preparedness tips:

Take photos or videos of personal possessions for insurance purposes.
Have at least $200 in cash in the house for emergencies.
Store several gallons of drinking water, and enough food to last at least seven days in your home.
Have two waterproof flashlights with extra batteries strategically located in your home.
Place select emergency items in your vehicle, and keep the fuel tank at least half-full.
Provide a trusted neighbor, friend, or extended family member with a spare key to your home and cars in case you need their assistance.
Have an emergency plan for pets.
Purchase items to keep your house and family safe.  Your local county Office of Emergency Management can provide details for risks specific to your region.  Some items may include plywood to cover windows, sump pump, back-up electric generator, sandbags, etc.

(Source: Verizon Wireless, August 2012)

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