BALTIMORE, Jan. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- AT&T* has an arsenal of disaster response equipment and personnel on standby as a major winter storm nears. We're ready to respond quickly.
We've activated our storm preparedness process as we closely monitor the severe winter weather. It's expected to impact Maryland over the weekend. Among our preparations, we've topped off fuel at generators positioned and installed and tested high-capacity back-up batteries at cell sites. We've also installed "Quick Connect Generator Plugs" at many of our cell sites and staged additional emergency response equipment in strategic locations. Our national reliability center is monitoring outages for quick action.
We have continued to enhance our network in storm-prone areas by installing more back-up and permanent generators at critical cell sites. We've been switching facilities, locating critical equipment in less vulnerable areas and upgrading critical electronics above expected flood levels.
"We know our customers rely on us, particularly during major snowstorms like this one," said J. Michael Schweder, president, AT&T Mid-Atlantic. "That's why we perform extensive drills and simulations throughout the year. We do all we can to have our networks prepared when severe weather strikes," he said.
"We've been working for the past few days to position equipment and crews to respond to the storm. And we're closely linked with Maryland public officials in their storm response efforts. With a storm of this magnitude, we may have some outages. But if service goes down, we'll do all we can to get it back up as fast as possible," said Schweder.
Just as we prepare our networks and personnel, we encourage residents and small businesses to consider the following recommendations:
- Keep your wireless phone batteries charged at all times. Have an alternate plan to recharge your battery in case of a power outage. Consider using your car charger for your device or having extra phone batteries on hand.
- Keep your wireless phone dry. The biggest threat to your device during storms is water, so keep your equipment safe from the elements. Store it in a baggie or some other type of protective covering.
- Have a family communication plan in place. Designate someone out of the area as a central contact, and make certain that all family members know who to contact if case of separation. Most importantly, practice your emergency plan in advance.
- Program all of your emergency contact numbers and e-mail addresses into your phone. Numbers should include the police department, fire station and hospital, as well as your family members.
- Forward your home number to your wireless number in the event of an evacuation. Because call forwarding happens out of the telephone central office, your landline phone will get incoming calls even if your local telephone service is inoperable at your home. In the unlikely event that the central office is not operational, services such as Voicemail, Call Forwarding, Remote Access call forwarding and call forwarding busy line/don't answer may be useful.
- Track the storm and access weather information on your wireless device. Many homes lose power during severe weather. If you have a wireless device that provides access to the Internet, you can keep updated with local radar and severe weather alerts.
- Camera phones provide assistance. If you have a camera phone, take, store and send photos — even video clips — of damaged property to your insurance company from your device.
- Take advantage of location-based mapping technology. Services such as AT&T Navigator and AT&T FamilyMap can help you seek evacuation routes or avoid traffic congestion from downed trees or power lines. You can also track a family member's wireless device in case you get separated.
Maximizing Service During and After a Snowstorm:
- Try text messaging. During an emergency, texts may go through more quickly than voice calls because they require fewer network resources. All of our wireless devices are text messaging capable. Depending on your text or data plan, additional charges may apply.
- Prepare for high call volume. During an emergency, many people try to use their phones at the same time. The increased volume may create network congestion, leading to "fast busy" signals on your wireless phone or a slow dial tone on your landline phone. If this happens, hang up, wait several seconds and then try the call again. This allows your original call data to clear the network before you try again.
- Keep non-emergency calls to a minimum. And limit your calls to the most important ones. If there is severe weather, chances are many people will be attempting to place calls to loved ones, friends and business associates.
Small Business Tips:
- Set up a call-forwarding service to a predetermined backup location. Set up a single or multiple hotline number(s) for employees, employees' families, customers and partners, as appropriate, to call so all parties know about the business situation and emergency plan. For this to be most effective, maintain an updated contact list, including mobile and home phone numbers and e-mail addresses, for all employees.
- Protect hardware/software/data records/employee records, etc. Routinely back up files to an off-site location. Use a generator to supply backup power to vital computer hardware and other mission-critical equipment. Prearrange the replacement of damaged hardware with vendors to ensure quick business recovery.
- Outline detailed plans for evacuation and shelter-in-place plans. Practice these plans (employee training, etc.). Establish a backup location for your business and meeting place for all employees.
- Assemble a crisis-management team and coordinate efforts with neighboring businesses and building management. Be aware that disasters affecting your suppliers also affect your business. Outline a plan for supply chain continuity for business essentials.
See more information and tips for disaster preparedness at www.att.com/vitalconnections.
*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.
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