Are your wireless devices prepared for an emergency?

Hollywood, MD – With more than 98 percent of Americans owning a mobile phone and more than 70 percent of 9-1-1 calls made on mobile devices, it is clear that wireless helps to save lives during emergencies. We don’t always know when a disaster will strike, but here are a few easy steps to take now to make sure you and your mobile device are prepared in case of an emergency.

PRIOR to an Emergency:

• Educate yourself about Wireless Emergency Alerts. If you are a parent, find out how your kids’ school district will notify you during an emergency.

• Save emergency phone numbers and email addresses in your smartphone for police, fire, hospital, vet, school, etc.

• Designate at least one “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) contact in your phone for emergency personnel, such as “ICE Jane (Mom).” Try to have at least one ICE contact who is out of the area as your point of contact.

— Tell your ICE contact(s) of your medical issues or special needs.
—  f you have pets, make sure your ICE contact(s) know how many and what to do in case you’re not available.

• Charge your batteries and carry a spare charger (e.g., car charger or external charging device). Keep devices and chargers in a waterproof bag. Follow these tips to conserve your phone’s battery life:

—  Whenever possible, use airplane mode and turn on your phone’s power saving mode (if it has one). At the very least, reduce your screen’s brightness and make your phone’s screen go to sleep faster.
—  Close unused apps and turn off push notifications so nothing is running in the background.
—  Turn off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and location-based services when they’re not used.
—  Set your email to arrive manually, or at the very least, every 15 minutes rather than to have them “pushed” to your device.

• Know how to forward your home phone number to your mobile device in case you are evacuated.

• Download apps, such FEMA, AccuWeather and flashlight to help keep you updated as the situation unfolds.   

• Take photos/videos of your property before (and after) an emergency for insurance purposes.

DURING an Emergency:

• Use text messaging, e-mail or social media to let your loved ones know you are okay. Keep it short and simple by only conveying the necessary information. By doing so, other people are also able to communicate with their loved ones.

• Avoid making voice calls unless it’s an emergency to prevent clogging the network. Voice calls take up more space on the wireless network and it’s important to minimize unnecessary voice calls so our emergency responders are able to communicate.

—  If you must make a call, keep it short. 
—  Also, when making a call, wait 10 seconds before redialing a call to help reduce network congestion. Quickly redialing phone numbers contributes to a clogged network.

• Judiciously use social media to keep you informed as the situation unfolds. This may include using location-based mapping apps for evacuation routes.

Be prepared: Download wireless apps 
Making preparations when threats are not imminent can make communities more resilient. Hazards common to Maryland include flooding, high wind, severe thunderstorms, and winter storms. There are several online sources to provide good emergency preparedness information. Here are a few links to important sources:

Maryland Emergency Management Agency
Federal Emergency Management Agency
National Weather Service: 

Contact Shertina Mack at