Through technology, individuals, families, responders and organizations can prepare for, adapt to and recover from disruptions brought about by emergencies and disasters. With effective planning it is possible to take advantage of technology before, during and after a crisis.
Before an Emergency
- Keep your contacts updated across all channels including phone, email and social media. Consider creating a group list serve of your top contacts. Also, as part of your Family Communications Plan, keep a family contact sheet of key contacts in case your phone is dead, damaged, or lost.
- Keep extra batteries for your cell phone in your Emergency Kit or purchase a solar-powered, crank charger, car charger or other backup charging device. Have a car phone charger for times you lose power. If running your car to charge your phone, make sure your car is in a well-ventilated location.
- Keep your cell phone dry. Water can damage your phone, so keep it safe from the elements by storing it in a waterproof bag or case.
- Program ‘In Case of Emergency’ (ICE) contacts into your cell phone so emergency personnel can contact those people during an emergency. Inform your ICE contacts that they are programmed into your phone and inform them of any medical issues or special needs you may have.
- Learn to send updates via text and internet from your mobile phone in case voice communications are down and unavailable. Text messages and the internet often have the ability to work in the event of phone service disruption. Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion.
- Those with traditional landline phones should keep at least one corded receiver which may work during a power loss.
- Those without a cell phone should carry a prepaid phone card to use during a disaster.
- Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio to monitor the media and receive updates. Remember to listen to your car radio when your home has no power.
- Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio with a battery backup and tone-alert feature.
- Download the free ping4alert! app to your Smart phone to receive important weather alerts and emergency messages from MEMA. Easy instructions are available at www.mass.gov/mema/mobileappp.
- Make a record of your personal property for insurance purposes. Take photos or a video of the interior and exterior of your home. Include personal belongings in your inventory. Keep an itemized list of your furniture, clothing and valuables to assist adjusters in case of a claim and support the list with photos or video.
- Store your important documents such as personal and financial records in a password-protected site online or a secure flash or jump drive that you can keep readily available. Remember important documents such as personal and property insurance (including home inventory), identification, & banking information.
During and after an Emergency
- If evacuating, call-forward your home phone to your cell phone.
- Keep phone calls brief. If you need to use a phone, try to convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family. If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cell phone, wait ten seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion. If networks are congested, consider data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion.
- To ensure friends and family that you are safe during or following an event, use Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) or services such as the American Red Cross’s Safe & Well program (www.redcross.org/safeandwell).
- Conserve your cell phone battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, placing your phone in ‘airplane mode’ and closing unnecessary apps.
- Only use 9-1-1 for real emergencies. Call Mass 2-1-1 with any emergency related questions.
- Your Smart phone can receive a variety of Alerts and Warnings. Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) text messages are automatically sent by the National Weather Service and MEMA to those within an impacted area.
- For emergency information from MEMA, go to the agency website at www.mass.gov/mema. Also, follow MEMA updates on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MassEMA ; Facebook: www.facebook.com/MassachusettsEMA.
- Immediately following a disaster, limit the use of mobile devices that can add to network congestion (streaming videos, downloading music or videos, playing video games, etc.)
- When it is safe to do so, use camera phones to take, store and send photos or video clips of damaged property to your insurance company and for your records.