GULF COAST — With Tropical Storm Arlene steadily approaching the Gulf Coast, residents are urged to prepare an emergency communications plan to help protect themselves and their families.
Verizon Wireless, which owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network serving 45.5 million customers, offers residents these tips to be safer during storms and other times of crisis:
- Keep wireless phone batteries charged in case local power is lost well before warnings are issued.
- Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power.
- Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.
- Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers police, fire, and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; family, friends and co-workers; etc. and program them into your phone.
- Distribute wireless phone numbers to family members and friends.
- Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you will be away from your home or have to evacuate.
"With the first major storm of the season approaching and with several more expected during the remainder of the hurricane season, it is essential that people make plans in order to keep themselves and their families safe," said Katherine Greene, president for the Verizon Wireless Houston/Gulf Coast region. "Proactive planning is key to staying safe during an emergency."
Additional tips if a storm hits include:
- Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.
- Send brief TXT Messages rather than voice calls, to help keep networks clear.
- Check weather and news reports available on many internet-connected and other wireless phones applications when power is out.
"Verizon Wireless technicians prepare for emergencies year-round," said Greene. "Planning for emergencies is an important part of our commitment to build the most reliable wireless network for the Gulf Coast area."
Nationwide, Verizon Wireless was able to provide thousands of free phones and millions of minutes of airtime to relief organizations and emergency workers across the country when other communications networks lost coverage during the storms. In addition, the company also set up Emergency Communications Centers to enable residents to contact loved ones, insurance companies and/or disaster relief agencies.
About Verizon Wireless' Hurricane Preparation and Response
- Verizon Wireless has invested more than $1 billion in its Houston/Gulf Coast wireless network in the past six years, including over $175 million in enhancements in 2004.
- Nationwide, Verizon Wireless technicians logged more than 250,000 man-hours in preparation and hurricane response efforts last year.
- The Verizon Wireless network is built for reliability in emergencies, with battery back up power at all facilities, as well as generators installed at all switching facilities and many cell site locations. This capability is critical when power goes out and if roads are impassable in the wake of a storm.
- The company has a fleet of Cells on Wheels (COWS) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTS), which are self-powered transmitters that can be rolled into hard-hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity. Network teams also have hundreds of generators ready to go to further strengthen the network.
- Verizon Wireless is fully prepared to again quickly set up wireless emergency communication centers (WECCs) to serve residents and rescue agencies in the area(s) in the greatest need.
- The company has developed and practiced a comprehensive emergency response plan, including preparing emergency command centers in the case of a storm or crisis.
Video footage with helpful tips for consumers to prepare for hurricanes and other severe weather is available in the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.
To visit one of the company's Emergency Command Centers in preparation of a storm, contact Patrick Kimball at 713-219-8227.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 45.5 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.