5 actions to take during hurricane season
TDS helps customers in at-risk communities prepare with technology
The U.S. hurricane season is officially underway. It requires ongoing preparedness until the season ends, typically in late November[i]. While scientists can usually predict the path of a hurricane at least three to five days in advance, it is incredibly difficult to predict how powerful a hurricane will be once it makes landfall. For this reason, and because TDS serves many communities in several states that are right in the path of hurricanes and tropical storms—planning ahead is critical.
To help plan for–and deal with–emergency situations Mother Nature creates, like hurricanes, TDS offers five technology-related tips:
- Back up images and files. For purposes related to insurance claims, take wide-angled pictures of every room in your house. Be sure to take pictures of furniture and electronics—televisions, desktops, laptops, recording equipment, etc. Store these photos online leveraging TDS Backup Online or other cloud-based services, such as iCloud or Google Cloud.
- Download safety apps. The Nextdoor app has geolocation technology[ii] that allows you to stay informed on what’s happening in your neighborhood. This can make for an easy way to connect with your neighbors. In addition, the FEMA app allows for real-time weather alerts, emergency safety tips for over 20 types of disasters, and directions to nearby open emergency shelters and disaster recovery centers.
- Manage phone battery. Safety apps won’t be useful if your smartphone dies. In emergency situations, preserve your battery by checking for updates every 30-60 minutes, turning down your brightness, closing apps not in use, and setting your phone to low-power mode, if possible. Between the intervals, consider setting your device to airplane mode to save precious battery life. Portable chargers are another valuable asset, if purchased and charged ahead of time.
- Update your voicemail and set an auto reply text. While you’re conserving battery life, it’s likely friends and family may be trying to check in on you. Cell service can also be unavailable during these events. For these reasons, updating your voicemail to convey your current situation can be extremely important. Information to include could be your home/neighborhood’s status, food/water supply, and who you are currently with.
In addition to updating your voicemail, consider setting an auto-text response to missed calls. On iPhone, you can customize auto replies in Settings > Phone > Respond with Text.
Android’s Call Rejection feature accomplishes the same thing. To create a custom response (up to 160 characters long): Phone app > More (or the menu icon with three dots) > Settings > Call Rejection > Rejection Messages > Add Custom Message, delete canned responses.
- Check social, sparingly. Social media apps are among the leading battery killers, which can be very problematic in emergency situations. With that being said, they can also offer valuable information. By searching a specific hashtag, you can easily hone in on storm related updates or view recent pictures from news sources and citizens, including driving conditions related to the evacuation route, for example. Since cell service can be unreliable during hurricanes, Twitter also allows for contact with family members and response organizations like FEMA.
Hopefully the majority of this information will never have to be used. However, should Mother Nature pay a visit to your community, TDS offers these tips to ensure you get the most out of your technology.