Communicating During Disasters

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Before an emergency:

  • Draft a family communication plan that details how you'll connect. This should include what methods you'll use and in what order. Always include an out-of-province contact in your plan. Long distance calls may get through when local lines are congested.
  • Program family contacts into your mobile phone. Keep hard-copy lists in home, work and vehicle emergency kits.
  • Keep mobile devices fully charged. Add extra chargers/batteries to all emergency kits.
  • Teach everyone in your family to text. Texts may get through when phone calls won't.

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  • Consider social media options, like creating a closed Facebook group for family to check in before and during disasters.
  • Think twice before pulling the plug on your analog phone. It doesn't require batteries and will work during extended power outages. Ask your service provider for details.
  • Identify how your local authorities will share information during disasters. Subscribe to alerts where available.
  • Research social media channels and mobile apps that provide critical information for your area, e.g. road closures and weather updates.

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  • If you don’t have a mobile phone, keep pre-paid phone cards in your home, car and vehicle emergency kits.
  • Have a hand-crank or battery-operated radio to monitor news reports. 
  • Consider purchasing Satellite Emergency Notification Devices (SEND) for key family members.

During an emergency:

  • Text, email and social media are best. Data-based services are less likely to experience major interruptions and require less battery power than a phone call.
  • Keep calls and texts short and sweet to reduce network congestion.
  • Don’t call 9-1-1 unless a life is at stake.

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  • Don’t waste battery life on mobile games, apps and videos. Dim your screen to preserve power for critical communication.
  • Forward your home phone to your mobile phone if you’re forced to evacuate.
  • If you have an answering service or machine, update your message with your status and location.  
  • Expect communication gaps. Depending on the size of the disaster, even texts will be delayed. Trust that everyone is following your plan.

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