Let People Know What’s Happening – Place all phones back on their cradles. Call your out-of-area contact, tell them your status, and then stay off the phone. Emergency responders need to use the phone lines for lifesaving communications. Check on your neighbors. If you evacuate leave a note to let others know where you have gone and how to contact you.
American’s are becoming increasingly reliant on their wireless devices to communicate. Unfortunately in times of emergencies the technology has come up lacking. August’s 5.8 earthquake in Virginia left many cell phone users without service for at least 20 minutes, while the old fashion land lines worked, for the most part, without interruptions.
The earthquake didn’t appear to damage cell towers. They simply got jammed because everyone tried to call at the same time — a problem exacerbated during times of emergency. Voice calls take up more bandwidth than texts and e-mails, which carriers have urged customers to use instead. Many users were able to use other Web services such as Twitter, Skype and Facebook to communicate.
The solution, until technology can catch up, is to stay off the voice portion of your cell phone unless you’re dialing 9-1-1 and use the other options: texting, e-mail, Twitter, Skype, Facebook or other social websites to communicate.
Food and water are essential – If the power is off, plan meals to use up refrigerated and frozen foods first. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services have stated: a freezer full of food will usually keep about 2 days if the door is kept shut; a half-full freezer will last about a day. The freezing compartment in a refrigerator may not keep foods frozen as long. If the freezer is not full, quickly group packages together so they will retain the cold more effectively. Separate meat and poultry items from other foods so if they begin to thaw, their juices won’t drip onto other foods.
For your refrigerator the CDC recommends – It should be safe as long as power is out no more than 4 hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that have been above 40 °F for over 2 hours. Never taste food to determine its safety!
If supplies run low, never ration drinking water. Drink the amount you need today, and try to find more for tomorrow. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing your activity level.
If a disaster catches you without a big enough stored supply of clean water, you can use the water in your hot-water tank, pipes, and ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl).
To use the water in your hot-water tank turn off the cold water supply to the tank. Turn off the gas or electric heater for the tank. Open the drain valve at the bottom. REMEMBER: Some sediment at the bottom of the tank may at first make water flowing out look murky. Continue to drain water until it becomes clear.