Phone Tips for Emergencies

Phone Tips for Emergencies

Until telepathic devices are implanted in our brains, phones will continue playing a huge role in keeping us connected to our friends and family. And we love them for it!

Whether you’re just starting to dip your toe into the emergency preparedness game, or you’ve already read our guide to making an emergency communication plan and are hungry for more, we’ve got four hot phone tips for you! (You’ll find even more in our Disaster Playbook.)

The best part is, they’re super easy to remember, so once you’ve memorized them, you’ll be able to devote more of your brain power to avoiding secondary disasters during an emergency.

1. Prefer texts over calls and use shorthand

emergency response tips - Texting is better than calling

During emergencies when network congestion and outages are common, choose to send important information by text instead of calling. Text messages require a lot less bandwidth than a phone call and are more likely to get through.

Additionally, if the network is so overloaded that even your text messages don’t go through when you first attempt to send them, they should go through as soon as the network regains its capacity.

For speedy emergency communication, use shorthand or use your mic to dictate a text message. Always include date and time of your message in case it’s delayed or the receiver doesn’t see it immediately.

For example, instead of typing, “It’s 2:30pm on Wednesday and I am safe and at the park near 2nd street,” type “safe at 2nd st park — sent 2:30pm 3/1/23.” Remember that your location, your safety status, and your immediate plan are the key things your contacts will need to know.

If you do need to make a call for emergency services, do it ASAP. Learn how to quickly make SOS emergency calls with the safety features on any kind of phone, in case you need to use a locked smartphone you’re not familiar with.

2. In case of network congestion, use a payphone

emergency response tips - payphone

If you are not able to get through via your cell phone and you are somewhere outside, use a payphone. Payphones don’t depend on electricity or network connectivity and thus, are more reliable. They do require money, though, so be sure to carry a phone card or change at all times.

If you’re laughing, I don’t blame you. Payphones are ridiculously hard to find. Depending on your area, there may not be any remaining payphones. Check out this payphone directory to find out if there’s one in your area, or in the places you visit most often.

3. Wait before redialing

emergency response tips - phone with circulating arrows around it

When you very quickly redial a number from your cell phone, there isn’t enough time for your phone to reset the data. This leads to network congestion and makes your calls less likely to get through. Wait at least 10 seconds before redialing for the best chance of connecting.

4. Reduce battery bleed

emergency response tips - battery

Since we’re all using them to watch TikTok for a few hours every day, modern smartphones have long-lasting batteries and quick charging capacity. Those videos eat up a lot of juice! You can make that juice last longer with a few easy changes to your daily phone use:

  • Turn on the “Battery Saver” mode on your device
  • Close all background apps.
  • Reduce the brightness to the minimum.
  • Turn off Bluetooth.
  • Turn off your data if you don’t need it (turn on “airplane mode“)
Rule of Thumb

The more phone battery you have when the world falls apart, the longer you’ll be able to tweet about it.

If your interest is piqued, the Disaster Bundle is for you. It’s your ticket to outrunning the vengeful gods. You can also learn more for free with our guides on emergency communication and disaster preparedness while you wait for your books to arrive! Keep those Go Bags fully stocked, and we’ll see you in line for the last payphone on earth.

Dog on phone GIF
Everything is under control.

About the Author

Writer, editor, and professional joker with an environmental science background. Like most trivia nerds, she's an ardent admirer of Only Connect competitors, but more at home on the QI field.

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