Insights to Power Social Good

Mobile Phones are Your Lifeline in a Disaster

Posted by Cassie Bair on Oct 29, 2012 6:36:00 AM


Phones are lifelines resized 600Hurricane Sandy is predicted to be a life threatening storm for the U.S. Millions of people are likely to be impacted. Most will reach for their mobile phone out of habit to get the latest news on the storm, their communities and loved ones through calls, internet, text, social media and more. But at a time when the power could be out for days, it's important to be smart about how you use your mobile device. Use these 8 tips to maximize your most valuable resource for communication - your mobile phone.

8 Tips for Using Your Mobile Phone in a Disaster: 

1) Keep your phone charged - If you lose power, your phone will be at maximum battery life when the lights go dark.

2) Identify other ways to charge your battery- If you anticipate losing power for days, a solar charger could make the difference in your ability to use your phone over an extended period. You can also keep extra phone batteries on hand or use your car charger.

3) Update contacts - Make sure you have current phone numbers and emails added to your phone list. The last thing you want is to be scrambling for a vital piece of information when you need it most. Consider setting up groups in your contact lists to save you time.

4)  ICE (In Case of Emergency) Contacts - Set up an ICE list in your phone and let those people know they are your emergency contacts in the event you are incapacitated. Make sure they are aware of any special health issues you may have!

5) Conserve your battery - Text instead of call. Shut down apps. Dim your phone screen. All will help extend your battery life. If you need to talk to someone, keep the call as brief as possible.

6) Let people know you are ok - Post updates to social media rather than correspond one-on-one with people. Also consider posting to American Red Cross's Safe and Well program. Friends and family can check on you there rather than draining the battery on your phone.

7) Subscribe to text alerts from vital resources - Example, text SHELTER and your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA) to get a list of shelters in your area should the need arise.

8) Bookmark vital sites - This will allow you to skip the surfing and go directly where you need to be. Important sites include the National Weather Service ( and FEMA ( You may also have local sites that are vital to your area that you may want to bookmark.

In the specific case of Hurricane Sandy, you may want to download the American Red Cross Hurricane App. To make life easy, text "GETCANE" to 90999 to get the link. [SMS subscription service. Up to 4msg/mo. Msg&Data Rates May Apply. Text STOP to {90999} to STOP. Full terms: Privacy Policy:]

mTip: Bottom line - text is most likely to be your best option during a disaster. But if it doesn't work, try every other avenue of communication (voice, web) before giving up!

Know someone who could use this info? Please feel free to share!

Got tips for us? Post a comment.

Cassie Bair is the VP of Marketing at Mobile Accord. Cassie has worked with many U.S. nonprofits leading marketing, strategic partnership, mobile and cause marketing initiatives. mGive, a Mobile Accord service, educates, engages and empowers nonprofits and their stakeholders through our groundbreaking utilization of SMS (text message) technology. Contact Cassie on Twitter (@Bairings) or by texting CASSIE to 50555. Message and Data rates may apply. 

Topics: Social Good, Intermediate, Disaster Relief

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