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Stay ahead of the storm with your cellphone

12:29 PM, Aug 23, 2012   |    comments
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Hurricane season is here, and it pays to be prepared for every conceivable situation long before a storm is named. For the past few years, Northeast Florida residents have been fortunate, but it is like a game of Russian roulette -- you know one day, luck will run out.

Today, many of us depend on our cellphones as a main source of communication, which was not the case in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew slammed into Florida. This is why our focus should be on cellphone preparedness.

Carriers, like AT&T, which invested $2.8 billion in Florida networks from 2009-2011, have worked to upgrade their networks. They are doing their part to make sure their systems are ready in a disaster so we can also do our part.

Here are some things to do before the storm:  
-Keep your wireless phone batteries charged at all times. Have an alternative plan to recharge your battery in case of a power outage, such as using your car charger to charge your device or having extra mobile phone batteries on hand.

-Keep your wireless phone dry. The biggest threat to your device during a hurricane is water, so keep your equipment safe by storing it in a baggie or some other type of protective covering.

-Have a family communication plan in place. Designate someone out of the area as a central contact, and make certain that all family members know who to contact if they get separated. Most importantly, practice your emergency plan in advance.

-Program all of your emergency contact numbers and email addresses into your mobile phone. Numbers should include the police department, fire station and hospital, as well as your family members.

-Forward your home number to your wireless number in the event of an evacuation. Because 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.

-Track the storm and access weather information on your wireless device. For example, you can download First Coast News' weather app. Many homes lose power during severe weather.

- Camera phones provide assistance. If you have a camera phone, take, store and send photos -- even video clips -- of damaged property to your insurance company from your device.

-Try text messaging. During an emergency situation, text messages may go through more quickly than voice calls because they require fewer network resources. You can also stay ahead of the storm by signing up for First Coast News weather text alerts.

First Coast News

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