BOCA RATON, Fla., Aug. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Cingular Wireless realizes the important role wireless communication plays in emergency situations, such as Tropical Storm Ernesto, and offers the following tips to help consumers prepare for the storm:
- Program all emergency contact numbers into your wireless phone. Store numbers for the police department, fire station, hospital, as well as your family members so you don't have to think about it during and after an emergency.
- Have a family communications plan in place. Designate someone out of the area as a central contact,and make certain all family members know who to contact if they become separated.
- Keep your wireless phone batteries charged at all times. Use your car charger to charge your wireless phone when power is out, or pick up a disposable battery that will give you an hour of talk time without any charging.
- Keep your wireless phone dry and protected. The biggest threat from hurricanes is water versus wind damage so keep your equipment safe from the elements by storing it in a plastic sandwich or freezer bag.
- Forward your home number to your wireless number in the event of an evacuation. Since call forwarding is based out of the telephone central office, you will get incoming calls from your landline phone, even if your local telephone service is disrupted at your home. In the unlikely event the central office is isolated, call forwarding may not work.
- Try text messaging, or SMS (Short Messaging Service). Most wireless phones today are text messaging capable, and often times during an emergency situation such as a hurricane, text messages will go through quicker than voice calls. More importantly, using text messaging helps free up the voice lines for emergency officials.
- Keep non-emergency calls to a minimum. Remember to limit your calls to the most important ones. Chances are that if there is severe weather, many people will be attempting to place wireless calls to loved ones, friends and business associates. If the landline phones are not working, this probability increases.
- Wait 10 seconds before redialing a call. On many wireless phones, to redial a number, you simply push "send" after you've ended a call to redial the previous number. If you do this too quickly, the data from the phone to the cell sites does not have enough time to clear before you've resent the same data and may contribute to network congestion.
- Use your wireless phone to access weather information. Many homes lose power during severe weather. If you have a wireless phone that provides access to the Internet, you can watch the Weather Channel and its new Severe Weather Mode service through our Mobi-TV service or though My-Cast Weather.
- If you have a camera phone, take, store and send photos of damaged property to your insurance company from your device.
The nation's largest wireless carrier has invested more than $60 million this year hardening its network in preparation for the 2006 hurricane season. In addition to adding 1,200 permanent and portable generators to cell sites in hurricane-prone areas, Cingular has expanded its emergency response plan to include two new state-of-the-art mobile command centers and two emergency communication vehicles that can be brought into an affected area quickly, providing full communications capabilities.
"Cingular's goal is to be as prepared as possible whenever and wherever disaster hits," said Rich Guidotti, Cingular vice-president and general manager for South Florida.