After a disaster, you’ll probably need to get in touch with a lot of people who work at your facility. But you could also have a limited ability to recharge your electronic devices, including cell phones, laptops, and tablets. So how can you conserve energy while keeping communication lines open?
The following checklist, adapted from recommendations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will help ensure you have enough battery power when you really need it:
- Be prepared. Keep extra batteries on hand, and keep a car charger in your trunk. If you want to be really well prepared, purchase a solar-powered or hand-cranked battery charger. Basic models are available for less than $20.
- KISS it (keep it short and simple). If you need to use a phone, try to convey only vital information to business contacts, emergency personnel, and/or family.
- Be patient. If you can’t complete a call using your cell phone, wait 10 seconds before redialing. This can help reduce network congestion and will sap less battery power than constantly redialing.
- Dim it down. Reducing your screen brightness saves battery power.
- Pretend you’re flying. Placing your phone in airplane mode saves battery power because the phone will stop searching for a network signal. You won’t be able to call or text message while your phone is in airplane mode, but you can compose e-mails and texts, and send them all at once when you are connected.
- Don’t play around. Don’t use your device to watch streaming videos, download music or videos, or play video games, and close any apps you’re not using. Otherwise, you’ll use valuable battery life and contribute to network congestion.
- Avoid congestion. Voice networks quickly reach capacity under disaster conditions. Try to reserve voice communication for emergencies; for other communications, use text messaging, e-mail, or social media instead. These data-based services are less likely to experience network congestion.
- Go mobile. 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 news alerts.
- Remember: Safety rules still apply. 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.
The key takeaway: Natural disasters and other catastrophes can strike anywhere, at any time. It’s important, therefore, that your organization has a comprehensive emergency response-planning strategy in place at all times.
If you wait for an unexpected and potentially devastating situation to arise, it’s too late, because without a plan for how to respond before a disaster strikes, you risk placing your workforce further in harm’s way.