Texting
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Cellular Response Tips

Cell phones have become essential in our modern and fast-paced era. We can communicate with others across the country instantly and use phones for numerous other reasons. However, some services may fail in the event of a disaster. Though there are ways you can utilize the settings on your phone to help you when emergencies occur.

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Social Media

After reaching a safe location, update your status on your various social media page to let your friends and family know where you are. Posting your status and location across multiple social media platforms will reassure loved ones that you’re separated from. It is not advised to seek help from first responders through social media. Social channels will most likely be flooded with posts during an emergency, and they will not have time to go through social media while out on the field.

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Voicemail

Changing your voicemail is another tool you can utilize. Similar to social media, once you reach a safe location or shelter, update your voicemail to let others know where you’ll be located. It is common for phone calls to fail during disasters, so if those calling you cannot get through, you can have your voicemail tell them where you’ll be.

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Low Battery

Mobile phones have finite batteries that can drain quickly only after a few hours. The best way to extend your phone’s battery life is to turn on the low battery setting in your phone’s system settings. Most modern phones have a low battery setting which you can enable to greatly decrease your phone’s battery usage. Extending your battery life allows for you to preserve your phone for as long as possible during an emergency when charging isn’t an option.

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Location Services

A newer feature that has recently been added to mobile devices is Emergency Location Service (ELS). Dialing an emergency number while ELS is turned on will automatically send its location to emergency response partners. This allows for disaster workers to know where you are located during an emergency. Most phones have ELS turned on by default underneath location settings. (add directions for apple and android)

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Text "Shelter"

Sometimes returning home immediately isn’t the safest option after a disaster. If you are unsure where to go, you can text SHELTER and the zip code of your location to 43362 to see what locations near you offer shelter. If you do not have access to a phone, communities of faith and schools are often converted to shelters in times of disaster. Texting is also more efficient than calling during a disaster, as you don’t need to stay on the line for a text. Once the message is sent, it will continuously retry sending the message until it is received.

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2-1-1 OC

If you’re a local to Orange County or just visiting, 211 is a number you can dial at any time if disaster strikes. 211 Orange County is a local, non-profit organization that offers the community services and support 24/7. During emergencies such as wildfires, earthquakes, and floods, 211 OC provides information, evacuation routes, and health advisories to assist those in need. 

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Calling 9-1-1

During a disaster or emergency, calling 911 right away is usually the correct thing to do, and knowing what to say beforehand allows for help to arrive as soon as possible. Here is all the information you should try to relay to a 911 operator:

  • Be as calm as possible and take deep breaths. The operator can only assist you if they understand the information said to them. 

  • Tell the operator the situation, address/location, what kind of assistance you need, and as much detail about where you’re making the call from.

  • If the operator asks you questions, answer as many as you can. This will help them assess the situation further and pass the information along to first responders.

  • Remain on the line and keep answering questions until the operator says it is safe to end the call. 

Following these steps will help the victims involved in the emergency and help first responders by giving them as much information before arriving on the scene. Staying calm and knowing what to say may result in saving lives.