Thursday, September 01, 2011

Text & Social Media First When Hurricane Hits

This caught my eye this morning.  Makes a lot of sense.  The Twitter traffic from Irene shows the trend.

Hurricane Irene steered clear of Central Florida for the most part, sparing the region of not just damages but communication troubles, as well, but experts warn that families need a plan.
More than 60 percent of all phone calls are made on a cellphone, and when an earthquake shook the East Coast last week and Hurricane Irene roared ashore over the weekend, many people couldn't get through to family and friends because the networks were jammed.
To avoid these problems in the future should a natural disaster hit Central Florida, FEMA suggests emailing or texting first. While a call might not go through, a text message should.
When Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne whirled through Central Florida in 2004, sheriff's deputies and fire fighters also had problems with cellphones.
Volusia County's community information director, Dave Byron, said that it really is a problem when cellphones don't work during hurricanes .
"When you get a disaster and you're a first responder like I am and you don't have a main communication tool, that does put you at somewhat of a disadvantage," Byron said. "I do think that is a subject that those that have some control over this ought to take a look at."
Not only do networks jam, but the wind and weather affects the equipment on the towers, so should a hurricane hit Central Florida, plan ahead:
  • If a phone call or text message doesn't go through, use social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.
  • Consider getting a landline phone that plugs into the wall, because like cellphones, portable phones might not work during or after a hurricane.
  • Make an emergency plan with family and friends should all of these options fall through, such as picking a place to meet after a storm.
FEMA has a new mobile app for Android (iPhone coming soon) and a text messaging program.  Here are the details.

No comments: