The people behind Take Winter by Storm want to make sure all of us in Western Washington are prepared for the upcoming La Nina winter. A typical La Nina season can bring severe storms, high winds and a lot of snow. How will you stay in touch and receive emergency help if your electricity goes out?
I was asked to speak about this during the news report. You should remember to try to keep your phone or other mobile device as fully charged as possible. Always have a car charger handy or a backup battery. Keep in touch with the latest developments quickly by following your local news station on Twitter or even Facebook.
Being prepared is the key. Keep batteries, flashlights, candles, blankets, canned goods and bottled water in a place that is easy to get to. Make sure you have enough of the basic food staples for yourself AND your pets on hand should an emergency arrive. Know where you will go if you are forced to leave your home for any reason, and the route you should take to get there.
This season, Take Winter By Storm will be using more social media to get the word out on preparations using “twips” through Twitter.
Take Winter by Storm has an emergency preparedness checklist for you, as well as contact cards you can fill out. They also host a plethora of resources, such as for road conditions, flooding resources and human services.
This is Polaris Fire’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:
Where are you? It’s amazing that people call 911 and can’t give even an approximate description of their location. If you need help, it is imperative that the help be able to find you. Even today, with cell phones and GPS, many rural areas don’t have these features available to them for locating people. Give landmarks that the dispatcher can use to tell the fire engine drivers where to go as most likely these will be local people that know their way around your area. Use nearby streets as a guide also.
Know your phone number. The dispatcher, be they fire, sheriff, highway patrol or local police, needs to know where to call if they need further information. They may need to call back to find out a better address, cross street or tell the caller some piece of information, like the arrival time of the engine or ambulance, or if there is anything the caller should be doing. Please speak clearly and slowly that the number can be conveyed accurately. If they need it repeated, do so until you and they are sure it is correct as there may be issues with cell phone service or a bad connection.
Know that the first people that respond may not be arriving with an engine. Many municipalities hire volunteers or paid call fire fighters in the community to augment the fire station’s staff. They usually arrive in private vehicles with turnout gear (boots, pants, coat, helmet, gloves and such) but do not have immediate access to other equipment until the engines arrive. Some do have access to brush or squad type vehicles (these are usually pick-up trucks with utility beds for various purposes) but usually do not have access to full fire engines unless they have taken months of training first.
Be in a location that they can find you but not be in the way. If your home is off the beaten path, go to the main street and wait for emergency personnel to show up so you can guide them to where they need to be. And then move out of the way so they can do their job. If it’s dark, use a flashlight to wave at the ground (not in their faces!) so they can identify you and find where they need to be going. Stay near your car, or other landmark where you can be found easily. If you are near your car, use its hazard flashers to get people’s attention.
Stay calm. Yelling at the dispatcher isn’t going to make the fire fighters appear quicker. As a matter of fact, the delay in providing accurate and factual information in a calm manner can mean the difference in life and death. The 15 seconds spent speaking in an understandable voice can help the emergency personnel avoid delays in having insufficient, inaccurate or plain wrong information in getting the help you need to you in a timely and safe manner. Those 15 seconds can save 2 minutes or more in trying to get the information to the people that need it.
Yes, you can do more than make calls and send messages with your phone. But can it do anything more than that? One viewer claims that the following are possible:
Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network in an Emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you. Keep in mind, 112 can be dialed even if your keypad is locked!
Have you locked your keys in the car? Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. If you lock your keys In the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. This saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, but if you can reach someone who has the other ‘remote’ for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk). This is something that I believe is highly suspicious.
Hidden Battery Power Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#. Your cell phone will restart with this reserve, and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell phone next time.
How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone. To check your Mobile phone’s serial number, key in the following Digits on your phone: *#06#. A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down, and keep it somewhere safe. If your phone get stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won’t get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can’t use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones. This is your IMEI number!
Free Directory Service for Cells Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 (or more!) for 411 information calls when they don’t have to. Most of us do not carry a telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial: (800)FREE411, or (800) 373-3411 to get any number you need… for free. Program this into your cell phone now.
The other night when Ponzi’s plane came in extremely late, we were driving home and noticed a couple of cars. One was pulled over to the side of the road, and the other was upside-down. We were about the second car on the scene. Ponzi immediately grabbed her phone and dialed 911. Ponzi then got out of the car and walked up to the vehicle. By then, another vehicle had pulled over, as well. It was worrisome, because we had no idea if the occupants of the car were injured. However, the driver of this second car was a paramedic. I rummaged in my trunk for road flares, since we were on an Interstate… only to find I didn’t have any.
Within minutes, it was apparent that the driver of the car was completely intoxicated. It was also apparent that the car was totaled. The driver was lucky, and walked away without a scratch. This was a disconcerting experience. I’m glad the driver was physically unharmed. I felt completely unprepared for such an emergency, as this is the first time I’ve encountered something like this. You can bet that the following day, I bought road flares, and put together a small emergency kit. You just never know when disaster could strike.
A community member sent me an email right around this same time, describing a recent situation of his own. He was driving home from work during a major snowstorm. His vehicle ended up trapped in a snowbank (he was unharmed), halfway between the two places. He wanted to send me his top five tips to deal with emergency situations to share with all of you. These have been put together out of his personal experience.
Don’t make things worse, such as gunning your engine. It’s very easy in a situation like this to panic and do something that could make your situation harder.
Don’t automatically expect help. If no one is aware of your timetable, they won’t come looking for you. Someone WILL come along eventually, so just stay put.
Only act when you are rational. It isn’t easy to remain calm and rational when you are trapped in an emergency. Try to stay as calm as you can.
Enumerate your options. “What can I do?” “What will give me the best chance of success?” For instance, in the case of an earthquake, ask yourself if you can get yourself quickly to a safe place. In most emergency situations, you’ll be able to assess your situation quickly. Sometimes, the best option is to stay put.
Be prepared. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s just better to be prepared for the unexpected, because life happens to everyone. Have an emergency kit on hand, and keep it with you when traveling.