In Case of Emergency...

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Understandably, our first reaction after a disaster strikes is to call family and friends. So it makes sense that cell networks can become overloaded in the minutes and hours following a disaster, making it painstakingly difficult, and sometimes impossible, to reach loved ones by phone. Here are 10 tips that can increase your odds of reaching those who matter most during trying times:

  1. If you have a landline, keep a corded phone in your home. They will continue to work even if you lose power.
  2. Keep a list of emergency contacts in your cell phone and written down near your home phone.
  3. Always program an "ICE" number in your cell phone. Emergency responders know to look under ICE, or In Case of Emergency, should they need to use your phone to contact someone.
  4. Designate one out-of-town family member or family friend as the emergency contact for your family. It's often easier to reach non-local numbers following a disaster.
  5. Keep a backup battery for your cell phone fully charged and be sure to have a car charger handy.
  6. Subscribe to your local city or town's emergency services, such as reverse 911.
  7. Using text messaging or social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to communicate following a tragedy can sometimes be easier, as they are less likely to cause network congestion.
  8. Keep phone calls brief to avoid network congestion for other folks trying to reach family and friends.
  9. Conserve cell battery by reducing screen brightness or backlighting and closing apps and programs not in use.
  10. Call 911 only in the instance of a life-threatening emergency.