It's important to keep the lines of communication open even when the Grid is down.
In North America, and around the world for that matter, our communication system is largely tied tied to the power grid. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if the power goes down, we'll all find ourselves cut off. Cut off from the news. Cut off from employers and fellow employees. Cut off from friends and family. Cut off from vital information.
This is could lead to a deadly scenario.
Not having access to the media could leave you without news of what is happening... information that could be critical to your survival during the aftermath of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or power grid collapse.
Imagine, no phone and no Internet access. You, your company, your employees, would be hard pressed to connect and regroup with your loved ones, a particularly daunting scenario.
But with a little preparation you can make sure that you have access to information and the ability to connect with friends, family, employees, customers and colleagues. Even if the power is completely down.
A Cell Phone is your first line of defense in crisis communication.
A smart phone is must have during a power outage. It's especially helpful in the first hours after the power goes down. With a fully charged battery, the average smart phone will continue to operate for several hours. Cell phone towers need power, but most have back-up power systems. In the first hours of a crisis, cell phone networks usually stay up. So, your smart phone can keep you connected.
A phone with a data package for Internet access and texting is your best option. It gives you multiple ways to communicate with those who are important to you. Call volume during a widespread crisis is very high, so you may not be able to connect through a phone call. But text messages and email use fewer resources. They give you a better chance of getting through to whomever you need to reach.
Keep in mind that your phone's battery life is finite. Without a working outlet to plug into, its usefulness is limited. Unless you have a solar charger. You can pick up a solar charger for small electronics like a cellphone for under $30.00 on Amazon.
With a solar charger, as long as there is sunlight and as long as cell phone towers continue functioning, you'll still have a means of crisis communication.
A Cell Phone Connection without a Cell Phone Tower
Even if cell phone towers go down, that doesn't mean that your cell phone has to be rendered useless. A new bit of technology can keep it working even if the towers fail. It's called goTenna.
With goTenna, you can continue to send text messages and GPS information. It works with your smart phone and blue tooth wireless to set up communication with other smart phones using a shared goTenna. That means you and your employees, family, and friends can communicate over as distance, no cell towers required.
With a small solar charger for your phone an your goTenna, this system can work indefinately. Plus, it's completely secure -- anyone who is not on your network cannot listen in. That includes the NSA.
Then goTenna will cost you $249.00 for a two pack.
A Standard Land Line can be a life saver
Older model landline telephones don't need power to work. It's a good idea to keep at least one of these dinosaurs around. Just plug it in to the phone jack, and then you can dial out. No electrial grid required.
One important preparedness step that you can take today is to put together an old-fashioned contact book.
Smart phones are wonderful for keeping and organizing phone numbers. But if our smart phone dies and your landline is the only way to communicate with employees, customers, friends and family during an outage -- how will you call them if you don't know and can't access their number?
Crisis Communicaton the old fashioned way
During a power outage, or any major emergency, you need up-to-date information on what's happening. Radio announcements can warn you of local danger. Or provide evacuation information. Or give you instructions for dealing with the situation you're in. A crank radio is a smart investment. With one of these, you can keep the information current, even when the power is down. All it takes is a little 'crank' to charge up the radio, and then you can tune into local news broadcasts.
One or Two item that should be in your Grab And Go Evacuation Kit
Keep a cable and or a USB Ethernet adapter on hand (depending on the generation of computer you have) so you can connect your computer directly to the Internet. Just because the power is out, doesn't mean the Internet is down. Wireless routers won't work, but if you connect a laptop directly to your internet jack, you might discover you have Internet access.
That means access to the media, email, and social media. Use them all to help you stay on top of the situation and to help you connect and coordiate with employees, customers, stakeholders, family and friends.
Living in the digital age makes us more dependent on the power grid than ever before. But it also gives us some creative options for staying on top of crisis communication during an emergency... even if the usual means of communication are down. Take advantage of these creative solutions and put together a back-up communication plan. It could make all the difference when it comes to surviving a power grid collapse.