TIPS: Communicating During Disasters
When disaster strikes, you want to be able to communicate by
both receiving and distributing information to others. You may
need to call UHDPS at 713-743-3333 or dial 9-1-1 for emergency
assistance, locate friends or family, or let loved ones know
that you are okay. During disasters, communications networks
could be damaged, lose power, or become congested. This fact
sheet provides two important sets of tips. The first will help
you prepare yourself on campus and your mobile devices for a
disaster. The second may help you communicate more effectively
during and immediately after a disaster.
BEFORE A DISASTER: HOW TO PREPARE YOUR HOME AND MOBILE DEVICE
1. Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers in your cell phone
and in or near your campus dorm phone.
2. Keep charged batteries and car phone chargers available for
back-up power for your cell phone.
3. If you have a traditional landline (non-broadband or VOIP)
phone, keep at least one non-cordless phone in your home because
it will work even if you lose power.
4. Prepare a family and friend contact sheet. This should
include at least one out-of-town contact that may be better able
to reach family members in an emergency.
5. Program "In Case of Emergency" (ICE) contacts into your cell
phone so emergency personnel can contact those people for you if
you are unable to use your phone. Let your ICE contacts know
that they are programmed into your phone and inform them of any
medical issues or other special needs you may have.
6. If you do not have a cell phone, keep a prepaid phone card to
use if needed during or after a disaster.
7. Have a battery-powered radio or television available (with
8. Subscribe to text alert services from UH (Go to
www.uhemergency.info) or local and state government
to receive alerts in the event of a disaster.
DURING AND AFTER A DISASTER: HOW TO REACH FRIENDS, LOVED ONES
& EMERGENCY SERVICES
1. If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1.
Remember that you cannot currently text 9-1-1.
2. For non-emergency communications, use text messaging, e-mail,
or social media instead of making voice calls on your cell phone
to avoid tying up voice networks. Data-based services like texts
and emails are less likely to experience network congestion. You
can also use social media to post your status to let family and
friends know you are okay. In addition to Facebook and Twitter,
you can use resources such as the
American Red Cross's Safe and Well program.
3. Keep all phone calls brief. If you need to use a phone, try
to convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or
4. If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cell
phone, wait ten seconds before redialing to help reduce network
5. Conserve your cell phone battery by reducing the brightness
of your screen, placing your phone in airplane mode, and closing
apps you are not using that draw power.
6. If you lose power, you can charge your cell phone in your
car. Just be sure your car is in a well-ventilated place (remove
it from the garage) and do not go to your car until any danger
has passed. You can also listen to your car radio for important
7. Tune into broadcast television and radio for important news
alerts. If applicable, be sure that you know how to activate the
closed captioning or video description on your television.
8. If you do not have a hands-free device in your car, stop
driving or pull over to the side of the road before making a
call. Do not text on a cell phone, talk, or "tweet" without a
hands-free device while driving.
9. Immediately following a disaster, resist using your mobile
device to watch streaming videos, download music or videos, or
play video games, all of which can add to network congestion.
Limiting use of these services can help potentially life-saving
emergency calls get through to 9-1-1.
www.ready.gov regularly to find other helpful tips
for preparing for disasters and other emergencies.
11. Consumers with questions about their particular mobile phone
devices should contact their wireless provider or equipment
Sources of information