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Stay connected during emergencies

Find out how to stay connected to the telecommuncations network during power outages and service interruptions.

It is important to know that different services (for example, traditional wireline phone, wireless, or VoIP provided over telephone or cable companies’ network) have different capabilities in emergencies or power outages. If you do not know what type of service you have, contact your provider.

For all services, it is important to keep a hard copy list of your important contacts. If you communicate via the telephone network during an emergency, limit non-emergency calls, particularly if you are using a wireless device. Convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family members.

Traditional landline (home phone, provided by a telephone company such as Verizon)

  • During a power outage, traditional landline service that runs over a copper network generally will continue to operate. However, phone service over a fiber network (from your cable company or Verizon FiOS) will not and requires battery to continue operating during an outage (see VoIP below).

  • Keep a traditional corded phone for outages. Without power, a cordless phone will not work.

VoIP/Digital Voice landline (phone service from your cable provider, e.g. Comcast Xfinity Digital Voice, Verizon FiOS Digital Voice, or internet-based phone service, e.g. Vonage)

  • Many companies offer voice telephone service using VoIP technology known as Digital Voice service. NOTE: Always inquire with your provider about the type of voice service you have, and any differences from traditional telephone service.

  • If you have any questions about your ability to dial 911 using your VoIP service, please contact your VoIP provider.

  • VoIP voice services may temporarily continue during a power outage with a battery backup. Batteries may last up to 8 hours of service. Check your modem/connection to be sure that it has a backup battery installed.

  • Consider purchasing a backup battery for extended service in the event that the power outage is prolonged and your initial battery does not last the full 8 hours.

  • Each year make a safety check of your modem battery backup, just as you do with alarms and smoke detectors. Contact your provider or authorized dealer to purchase replacement/backup batteries. Internet-based voice service providers such Vonage, Magic Jack, and Skype rely on an internet connection to process calls. You may not be able to make a call using these services during a power outage.

  • For additional information:

Payphones

  • Most payphones connect to the traditional landline network and therefore will operate in the event of a power outage.

  • Consider keeping a prepaid phone card available, particularly if you do not own a wireless phone, in order to ensure you are able to make calls over a payphone if necessary.

Wireless/cell phone

  • Keep your wireless phone batteries charged at all times. Have an alternative source to recharge your battery, such as using a car charger,  or purchase extra mobile phone batteries.

  • Program all emergency contact numbers and email addresses into your phone.

  • During emergencies, use text messaging to communicate instead of voice calls, as data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion.

  • Keep your cell phone and all equipment dry to prevent damage caused by water.

  • In the event of an emergency, you should be able to use any cell phone—even one that is not currently activated—to connect to 911.

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