Friday, September 10, 2004

Communications options.

During a disaster local phone lines and cell sites are overloaded as everyone is trying to contact each other. One of the simplest and best ways to contact each other is to establish an out-of-state contact person that all of you can call to coordinate who is where. It might take a little longer but it is far more likely as long distance lines are generally okay during disasters. Make sure everyone has a calling card and the contact phone numbers with them at all times.

During the 9/11 attack the cell phone and telephone systems were overwhelmed, but the Instant Message services and paging services were fine. Another option that has worked well is Short Message Service two-way paging. It is not as popular as cell phones and the information sent is much smaller so it can get through a lot easier.
Another option but the most expensive is using the Internet. Setting up a free website at someplace like Blogger is easy and that way everyone can leave messages to each other there. There are PDAs and cell phones that can hook up to the internet that can do this pretty well. The Internet was originally designed to withstand nuclear war so while calling out of the local disaster zone may be difficult the Internet will be there to communicate with.
For short range communications (2 miles) you can use Family Radio Service (FRS) walkie-talkie radios. for a little longer range (5 miles) your can GSRM radios.

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