Staying connected during emergencies

(NC) -- Being able to communicate with family, friends and first responders during an emergency is critical. However, everyday communication devices may not work at such a time.

Here are steps you can take before an emergency strikes to help you stay in touch:

• Keep at least one corded phone in your home (if you have a landline). Cordless phones rely on electricity and will not work during a power outage.

• Keep extra batteries or a charger for your mobile device in your emergency kit.

• Keep your contacts up to date on your mobile devices.

• Save your safe meeting location(s) on your phone's mapping application.

Other tips for staying in touch and reducing network congestion in an emergency:

• If you must use a phone, keep your conversation brief and convey only vital information.

• If possible, use non-voice channels like text messaging, email or social media, as these use less bandwidth than phone calls and may work even when phone service has been disrupted.

• Monitoring social media channels for updates from authorities can be a great way to stay informed. However, these channels are not typically monitored 24/7, so the best way to report an emergency is to call 9-1-1.

• If you have been evacuated and have call-forwarding on your home phone, forward calls to your cell phone.

• Conserve battery power by reducing screen brightness, keeping calls short, and closing apps not in use.

• To reduce network congestion immediately after an emergency, avoid using your mobile device to stream videos, download entertainment, or play video games.

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