TAMPA, FL — With Hurricane Irene tracking toward Florida and the Southeastern United States, residents should be ready with an emergency communication plan to keep their families safe and in touch.
Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless carrier, offers these tips:
- Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location. Consider waterproof accessories or simple zip-lock storage bags to protect devices.
- 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.
- Maintain a list of emergency numbers -- police and fire agencies; power and insurance companies; family, friends and co-workers; etc. -- and program them into your phone.
- Distribute wireless phone numbers to family members and friends.
- Download from a wide variety of weather- and safety-related applications for smartphones, tablets and other devices. Many of these apps are free.
- Use services such as Backup Assistant, a free Verizon Wireless application that stores a phone's address book on a secure server in case the phone is lost or damaged.
If the storm threatens the region further, Verizon Wireless urges the following:
- 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.
- Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you evacuate.
- Check weather and news reports on wireless phone applications when power is out.
"Of course, we hope Irene turns out to be harmless here," said Pam Tope, Florida region president for Verizon Wireless. "But early preparation is the key to staying safe."
Verizon Wireless, which operates the nation's fastest, most advanced 4G network and largest, most reliable 3G network, has made numerous network enhancements since last year's storm season. These include launching its most advanced 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) services in numerous Florida markets; adding capacity to more than 700 high-speed 3G cell sites across the state; installing new in-building network systems at hospitals, government and emergency facilities, high-traffic public venues and other key locations; and integrating former Alltel cell sites and technical facilities into the Verizon Wireless network.
In addition, the company has five "super-switch" network processing centers across Florida (Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa Bay, Jupiter and Pembroke Pines), which are designed to withstand Category 5 hurricanes. With hardened shells, these facilities also feature large-scale on-site power generation, various redundant operations and technologies, and other back-up systems to ensure the company's Florida network remains strong, running and reliable.
These initiatives are part of a network investment exceeding $2.2 billion in Florida since the company formed in 2000. Nationally, the company has invested more than $65 billion to increase the coverage and capacity of its premier nationwide network, and to add new services.
For more information on the Verizon Wireless network, products and services, visit www.verizonwireless.com.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s fastest, most advanced 4G network and largest, most reliable 3G network. The company serves 106.3 million total wireless connections, including 89.7 million retail customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 83,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) and Vodafone (LSE, NASDAQ: 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 http://www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.