With the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season just around the corner, C Spire is offering consumers and businesses in storm-prone areas some important emergency reminders and tips on using essential telecommunications before, during and after any storm or natural disaster.
The initial outlook from Colorado State University, considered the nation’s top forecaster, calls for a slightly below average season with 13 tropical storms (wind speeds of 39 mph or higher) and five hurricanes (74 mph or higher winds) forming in the Atlantic Ocean during the six-month period that officially begins on Saturday, June 1.
Last year was considered an above average season with 15 named storms and eight hurricanes, two of which were considered major, including Florence, which dropped nearly 36 inches of rain on North Carolina, and Michael, whose 155-mile-per-hour winds battered the Florida panhandle and produced 39 fatalities and $16 billion in damages.
“2018 was an active season with two major hurricanes making landfall on U.S. soil,” said Mark Rigney, Senior Vice President of Core Network for C Spire. “With nearly 38 million people living in hurricane-prone coastal areas, we can’t afford to let our guard down. Now is the time for individuals, families and businesses to prepare their emergency plans, create emergency supply kits and learn evacuation routes.”
In conjunction with state and federal hurricane season preparedness efforts, C Spire is offering consumers and businesses the following tips and advice on essential communications during this storm season:
Consumer Tips – Before the Storm
- Charge your primary wireless phone battery and secure back-up batteries and a vehicle charger in a dry, accessible location. Use waterproof accessories or simple zip-lock storage bags to protect devices.
- Take photographs and videos of all your important possessions with a camera or video and send them to your email address. If a hurricane damages your home or property, these items will help you file your wind or flood insurance claim.
- Consider storing important documents and personal items in a storage facility away from the threat of any major storm, wind or water damage. Take photographs for your records and store on a portable drive or cloud-based service.
- Plan and practice a hurricane evacuation route with your family and leave immediately when directed by local authorities.
- Designate an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as your family contact person and make sure everyone in your family knows the contact person’s name, address and phone number. Text or email the contact information with your phone or computer.
- Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers for police, fire, rescue agencies, power companies, insurance providers and family, friends and co-workers and program them into your phone or email address book.
- Give your emergency contact information to those who may need it, including neighbors, family and friends.
- Track wind and storm surge information through the web browser on your laptop, tablet or mobile phone.
- Prepare an emergency supply kit with items, including a flashlight and battery-powered radio with extra batteries, canned and non-perishable food, bottled water, toiletry items, pet food and supplies, medicine and prescription medication and copies of important family papers and documents.
- Download free weather and safety-related applications like The Weather Channel, FEMA and the National Weather Service for smartphones, tablets and other devices.
Consumer Tips – During and After the Storm
- Use a battery-operated weather radio to get the latest storm information.
- Limit travel in hurricane-prone areas, which should be closed, and use extreme caution. Do not drive through flooded roadways or attempt to cross flowing streams.
- Place voice calls only when necessary. Limit your personal calls so that capacity is available for 9-1-1 calls and other emergency responders. When possible, send text messages instead of placing voice calls. Text messages require less network capacity and are more likely than voice calls to reach their destination during periods of network congestion.
- Charge your mobile phone in your car during commercial power outages. If a car charger is unavailable, buy an AC adapter for your vehicle so you can use your wall charger.
- Turn backlight down on your mobile phone to the minimum levels to conserve battery life. When the battery is extremely low, turn phone off unless in use.
- Use a camera on your mobile phone to document damage to your personal property, home or business and use picture and video messaging to send them to insurance agents or other contacts.
Business Tips – Before, During and After the Storm
- Set up call forwarding to an alternate location as a hotline for employees, their families, customers, vendors and suppliers to call for updates on your business status and emergency planning.
- Maintain an updated employee contact list, including home and cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
- Protect mission-critical data, hardware and records by periodically backing up files to an off-site location. Use a generator as backup power for computer hardware and other essential equipment. To aid a prompt business recovery, have a plan ready to implement for replacement of damaged hardware.
- Train employees on evacuation and shelter plans. Establish a backup location for your business and an employee assembly point.
- Use a crisis-management team to coordinate efforts with nearby businesses and building management. Develop and implement a plan for supply chain continuity for essential elements of your business.
“The bottom line is preparation,” Rigney said. “While weather professionals continue to improve the accuracy of their hurricane forecasts, individuals, businesses and communities need to work together to develop and implement comprehensive plans to effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from severe weather events.”