Stay Connected When Disaster Strikes

family planThis week, Georgia experienced an unprecedented series of challenges related to the winter storm and subsequent traffic shutdown. At Verizon, our employees in the affected areas experienced many of these challenges, and our thoughts go out to everyone who was stuck away from home. This winter storm really drove home the enormous importance of getting ready before severe weather emergencies.

Monday is the first day of Georgia’s Severe Weather Awareness Week, when Georgians are encouraged to take steps to prepare for the upcoming severe weather season. Our focus at Verizon is to keep people connected, to this end, here are a few tips on how technology can help keep your family connected in the event of an emergency like the one last week.

First, develop a family emergency plan that includes what to do, who to call, where to go and what supplies to take with you if your family must evacuate. Wireless devices can be a key source of information and communication in an event of an emergency, so be sure to keep phones, tablets, laptops, batteries, chargers and other equipment in dry, accessible locations like re-sealable plastic bags. Plus, have car chargers available to charge devices while on the road.

Use your smartphone or tablet to take photos or videos of personal possessions for insurance purposes. You can save them to an online file storage site such as Verizon Cloud, ensuring you have a copy on file in case your computer is damaged.

When communicating with family during an emergency situation, opt for brief text messages rather than voice calls. Text messages are likely to get through more quickly in a crisis. You can also use your phone to follow local news, emergency contacts and community leaders via social media.

There are many apps available to help before, during and after an emergency. Weather Bug, for example, alerts you to potential severe weather, including radar, and supplements TV and radio warnings when the power goes out. Ready Georgia’s mobile app  offers local weather and hazard alerts, lets you create and update your personalized emergency contacts and plans, provides an emergency supplies checklist and information on how to prepare for specific threats, and shows the location of the nearest open shelters. Also, an app such as Flashlight on iPhone can turn your smartphone into a light source in the event of a power outage.

Other wireless tips to help you stay connected and informed:

  • Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.
  • Check weather and news reports available through many Internet-connected wireless phones, and through other wireless phone applications, when the power is out.
  • 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.)

Verizon Wireless is again working with GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign to educate consumers about how best to prepare for severe weather emergencies. To further help you stay connected during an emergency, Verizon Wireless and Ready Georgia are giving you seven chances to win a Mophie Juice Pack™ Powerstation that lets you charge a range of devices on the go. Visit and like for details on how to win as well as preparedness tips and other updates year-round.

Kate Jay is public relations manager for the Georgia/Alabama Region of Verizon Wireless.