Top tips for communicating in an emergency

Do you have an emergency communication plan? Sure you do. Call your friends and let them know you’re ok, but didn’t someone just change their phone number? Maybe you need real help like you’ve never needed it before, like your house is underwater kind of help. 

Tips for communicating in an emergency

  • If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1. 
  • During a disaster everyone will naturally start making phone calls which will create network congestion. You will have more success, and you will help reduce congestion for important emergency calls, by using messaging apps, email, or social media, instead of making a phone call. 
  • Turn on a phone tracking service before an emergency, such as Apple's Find My or Google's Find My Device, so that you can quickly see where everyone is during a disaster. 
  • If you do make a phone call, keep it brief. Try to convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family. 
  • If you are not successful in completing a call using your cell phone, wait ten seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion. 
  • To conserve power on your mobile phone you can turn on power saving mode, or turn it off completely. Don’t play around with settings like airplane mode or trying to turn off apps. This will just waste valuable energy, and you may forget that you can’t receive calls while in airplane mode. 
  • Subscribe to text alert services from local or state governments to receive alerts in the event of a disaster. Parents should sign up for their school district emergency alert system. 
  • Social media is a great way to communicate during a disaster, it also enables misguided information to be amplified. Be extra critical of what you read and fact check against reliable news sources. 
  • You can look up friends and family to see if they’re safe during a disaster using the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well program