GULF COAST, FL — With Hurricane Ivan projected to hit the Gulf Coast and then move inland, residents and businesses are busy preparing for bad weather, including making emergency communication plans. Verizon Wireless also is preparing its network, and offers residents these easy tips to be safer during severe storms and other times of crisis:
- Keep wireless phone batteries charged in case local power is lost well before warnings are issued.
- Have additional fully 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.
- When dialing 9-1-1, remember to hit the "Send" key and state your location.
- Use TXT Messaging as an alternative way of getting quick messages to individuals or groups.
"Wireless communication can be a lifesaver, especially along the Gulf Coast where a hurricane could disrupt landline service," said Katherine Greene, Houston/Gulf Coast region president. "We invest significant resources to make sure our network will be up and running when it's needed most. We also urge our customers to plan for emergencies."
Throughout the year, Verizon Wireless goes through comprehensive disaster recovery plans to test emergency generators and back-up batteries to keep the network online in the event of a power outage.
In the Gulf Coast, individual transmission sites operated by Verizon Wireless with their own on-site backup generators will be able to operate for 24-96 hours without refueling and 6-8 hours on battery alone. Additional back-up generators have been pre-staged in the Gulf Coast area to be immediately deployed once the critical path of the storm is identified. This capability could be critical if roads become impassable in the wake of a storm.
The company also has a mobile fleet of Cells on Wheels (COWS), which are self-powered transmitters that can be rolled into hard hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity. The fleet of portable generators has been fueled and is on stand-by and fuel companies have been scheduled to assist in keeping the generators running.
After Hurricane Charley, thousands of residents in Southwest Florida lost landline phone service and/or coverage from their wireless carriers and were turned to the Verizon Wireless Emergency Calling Centers in order to make free phone calls and emails, and to charge and/or service their phones. A large number of loaned phones are still being used by federal and local emergency response agencies to help the state recover from the recent Hurricanes Charley and Frances. Verizon Wireless has provided nearly one million free minutes of airtime to victims and emergency services personnel.
Verizon Wireless invested $54 million in its Gulf Coast network last year to ensure optimal performance. Nationally, the company invests $1 billion every 90 days
For more emergency communication information if a storm is approaching, or for general wireless safety tips, visit www.verizonwireless.com.
Editor's Note: To view a photo of a COW, or one of the company's Network Operations Centers, please visit http://www.verizonwireless.com/news and click on "image gallery."
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 40.4 million 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 receive broadcast-quality video footage of Verizon Wireless operations, log onto www.thenewsmarket.com/verizonwireless.