MOBILE, AL — With Tropical Depression Ana and Hurricane Bill churning in the Atlantic Ocean, and Tropical Storm Claudette dumping rain on the Panhandle as it moves further inland, Gulf Coast residents are urged to finalize their emergency communication plans as the 2009 Tropical Hurricane Season heats up with its first three named storms. Verizon Wireless, which operates the nation’s largest and most reliable wireless network, offers residents these tips to be safer during strong weather and other emergencies:
- Keep wireless phone batteries fully 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.
- Keep a list of emergency phone numbers – police, fire, and rescue agencies; insurance providers; and family, friends and co-workers – programmed 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.
If a storm already is striking or threatening, Verizon Wireless suggests these tips:
- Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.
- Send brief text messages rather than voice calls for the same reasons as above.
- Check weather/news reports available on wireless phone applications when power is out.
“Thorough preparation is the key to staying safe and in touch during emergencies,” said Kay Henze, president, Houston/Gulf Coast region, Verizon Wireless. “Residents should take prudent steps now, just as our teams have been in preparing the network to provide strong coverage and services to residents and emergency responders, no matter the situation.”
Verizon Wireless has continued the intensive investments and preparations that proved critical during and after past years’ storm seasons. In the aftermath of even the most devastating hurricanes, the Verizon Wireless network in Alabama and Florida remained strong while many other wireless communication networks struggled to serve emergency response officials and residents.
Additional highlights of the Verizon Wireless 2009 Tropical Hurricane Season preparation and network enhancement include:
- A comprehensive emergency response plan, including preparing emergency command centers across Alabama in the case of a storm or other crisis.
- Verizon Wireless network technicians traveled nearly 15,000 miles across Alabama and over 3,000 miles across Mobile and Baldwin Counties this past year in six vehicles (each valued at $250,000, equipped with phones, wireless data devices and computers) to measure the quality of calls on Verizon Wireless and other carriers.
- The company has a fleet of dozens of Cells on Wheels (COWs), Cells on Light Trucks (COLTs), and Generators on Trailers (GOaTs) that can be rolled into hard-hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity.
- Pre-arranging fuel delivery to mobile units and generators to keep the network operating at full strength even if power is lost for an extended period of time.
- The completion of the Verizon Wireless 3G high-speed wireless network throughout the state, allowing customers to access advanced wireless services more reliably and at even faster broadband speeds.
- Updating and optimizing technology at regional network switching facilities throughout the region, including expanding capacity in the company’s regional switching facilities throughout Alabama, erecting new digital cell sites with on-site back-up power, and deploying a team of “test men and women” across the state in high-tech vehicles to fine tune the company’s all-digital network.
These new technologies, facilities and network-strengthening efforts are part of an investment of more than $70 million since the start of last year’s Hurricane Season including a $1.5 million investment in the Mobile area.
(Editor’s Note: To accompany a Verizon Wireless Test Man or Woman, tour a network emergency command center, or obtain broadcast-quality video B-Roll and still images of emergency preparations, contact Gretchen LeJeune at 713-219-8028.)
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable and largest wireless voice and data network, serving 87.7 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with more than 87,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). For more information, visit 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.