Emergency Preparedness: Maintaining Contact After a Disaster

Windsor Property Management - Dede's Property ManagementIn light of the October, 2012 Frankenstorm Sandy, it is sensible to review your emergency preparedness plans. While individual types of disasters may vary – from hurricanes to blizzards to tornadoes to earthquakes – the impact is frequently the same. For example, as a result of Hurricane Sandy, over 2 million people have been left without power in New Jersey alone. Losing power is an aftereffect of many natural disasters and it always demonstrates how much we rely on the power grid. You need to think about how you will stay in contact with the outside world when all of your electricity is off. Cell phones are sometimes the only way to do this.

Try to keep your cell phone fully charged whenever possible. Most people charge their phones at night. This is a good idea, especially if something like an earthquake strikes with no advance warning. In order to rely on your cell phone, do what you can to keep the battery life strong:

If any emergency strikes, there are steps you should take immediately.

Pay attention to your display settings. Lower your screen brightness as much as you can in order to preserve battery.

Turn off your 4G or 3G capabilities.

Turn off your email send and receive functions. You will not need this capability during a crisis.

Limit usage. It will be hard to send and receive phone calls anyway because everyone else will be trying to do the same. In many instances, the cell phone towers are themselves either without power or are inundated with traffic. Oftentimes, phone calls do not go through. Meanwhile, the effort of trying to “call out” drains your battery quickly as well. Try to limit using your phone for conversations. Instead, TEXT.

Texting is one of the most efficient ways to send and receive messages during a disaster. Your best bet is to identify one emergency contact person, outside of the “disaster zone,” who can take care of some things on your behalf. For example, my sister in Seattle is my emergency contact. If an earthquake hits Santa Rosa, I will text my sister to let her know what our situation is. She can then get in touch with my family members and friends, so I do not have to personally contact dozens of worried people. She can also be my “information switchboard.” Since I will probably not have any access to television or internet, my sister would be able to tell me where shelters and resources are located, what is happening with first responders, and what the status of the power integration is. Having someone outside of the disaster area keep you updated with useful information will help you plan and respond appropriately.

You might actually want to take the extra step of giving your emergency contact person your Facebook user name and password. This is a personal judgment call, but I would give my sister that information, so she can update my status periodically and let everyone close to me know what’s happening. Once the disaster is over, I can go back and change my password to keep my social networking sites secure.

The last detail you want to have covered is to ensure you have a cell phone charger with a car plug adaptor. Whatever happens to your car during a disaster, as long as you can turn it over and get the engine fired up, you can charge your phone and other electronic devices. You need to anticipate that you might have to be self sufficient for a while. Even now, with Hurricane Sandy winding down, the northeast will face days and potentially even weeks of having no power.

Make sure you check other resources for tips on emergency preparedness. The American Red Cross (www.redcross.org) offers a great library of information. When disaster strikes, you should hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. If you need any further information on how to prepare as a landlord or a tenant, give us a call at DeDe’s Rentals – (707) 523-4500.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at DeDe’s Rentals. We will be happy to help you.

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