Internet & Cell Phones
The Internet - including online news sites and social media platforms - is the third most popular way to gather emergency information to let family and friends know you are safe.
- Keep your contacts updated across all of your channels, including phone, email, and social media. This will make it easy to reach out to the right people quickly to get information and supply updates. Consider creating a group list of your top contacts.
- Learn how to send updates via text messaging and the Internet from your cell phone to your contacts and social media sites in case voice communications are not available. Text messages and the Internet often have the ability to work in the event of a phone service disruption.
- Keep extra batteries for your phone in a safe place or purchase a solar-powered or hand crank charger. These chargers are good emergency tools to keep your laptop and other small electronics working in the event of a power outage. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger because you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home.
- Download or program an "In Case of Emergency" (ICE) application into your cell phone so emergency personnel can contact those people for you if you are unable to use your phone. Let your ICE contacts know that they are programmed into your phone and inform them of any medical issues or other special needs you may have.
- If you have a traditional land line phone, keep at least one non-cordless phone in your home because it will work even if you lose power.
- If you are evacuated and have call-forwarding on your home phone, forward your home phone number to your cell phone number.
- Prepare a family contact sheet. This should include at least one out-of-province contact that may be better able to reach family members in an emergency.
- Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio available with spare batteries.
- Charge all of your phones, notebooks, and tablets prior to any storm. If there are power outages these devices may be your method of staying in touch and keeping informed.
Additional tips when making phone calls and using your cell phone during or after a disaster:
- Use your phone sparingly, and only use text messages to communicate with friends and family. Send a text as soon as you can to friends and family stating “We are OK, don't call, we will call you”.
- Keep any phone calls brief. Try to convey only vital information.
- If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cell phone, wait ten seconds before redialling to help reduce network congestion.
- Conserve your cell phone battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, placing your phone in airplane mode, and/or closing applications you are not using that draw power, unless you need to use the phone. Battery life is critical when dealing with a prolonged power outage.
- If you lose power, you can charge your cell phone in your car. Ensure your car is in a well-ventilated place (remove it from the garage). Do not go to your car until any danger has passed. You can also listen to your car radio for important news alerts.
- After a disaster, resist using your cell phone to watch streaming videos, download music, or play video games, all of which can add to network congestion in addition to using up battery life.
- Remember, use text messaging, e-mail, or social media instead of making voice calls on your cell phone to avoid tying up voice networks. Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion. You can also use social media to post your status to let everyone know you are okay.
The three North Shore Fire Departments are urging residents to take the following safety precautions when using a laptop computer:
- Always operate laptops on a hard surface that allows ventilation. Soft materials such as a couch, blanket, bed, or carpet can block the airflow vents and cause the device to overheat. Using a laptop chill pad or cooler will allow air circulation between the laptop and the surface it is placed on.
- Always shut down your laptop, especially when placed in a laptop bag.
- Inspect and clean the air vents on a weekly basis. Forced-air dusters can be used to keep the vents clean and free from debris.
- Replace any equipment/parts that do not work. A damaged/faulty battery has the potential to start a fire.
- Check your laptop’s battery against the most current battery recall list.
- In case of a battery or electrical fire: DO NOT USE WATER. Use either a Class ABC multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher or a Class BC carbon dioxide extinguisher.
Store your important documents such as personal and financial records on a secure flash or jump drive that you can keep readily available. This flash drive can be kept on a key ring so it can be accessed from any computer, anytime, anywhere. Remember important documents, such as:
- Personal and property insurance.
- Identification: Driver's license/ Passport (for family members, as well).
- Banking information.
Don't forget your pets!
Store your pet's veterinary medical records documents online.
- Consider an information digital implant.
- Keep a current photo of your pet in your online kit to aid in identification if you are separated.
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance. Create an Household Emergency Plan to record how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations.
- Make sure to share this document with family members, friends and co-workers who will also need to access it in an emergency or crisis.
- When handling personal and sensitive information always keep your data private and share it only with those who will need access in case of emergency.
- Sign up for Direct Deposit and electronic banking through your financial institution so you can access your payroll funds and make electronic payments regardless of location.
References & Links