Using Your Cell Phone for Emergency Communications
We are all spoiled by the fact that we carry a small communication device in our pockets, the cell phone. When I was young, these were still dreams of science fiction writers. Today, I carry one with me everywhere and probably depend on it too much. I am still not quite up to date with most people; I haven’t gone to a smartphone yet, but maybe one of these days. During many different situations, cell phones work well for emergency communications.
If it is an EMP attack or a situation in which the government shuts down the cell phone system, you will have to go with your backup plan — perhaps walkie-talkies or ham radios in a Faraday container. However, in the meantime, the cell phone is very handy, and almost everyone has one.
A few years back we had a major wildland fire in our area that destroyed over 60 homes. Several members of our church live in the area and we wanted to check on them, but the phone system was jammed. We discovered that even when the lines were jammed, text messages were going through. We were able to reach everyone successfully by texting. A phone call is 460,000% larger than one text message!
One of the problems with cell phones is that they need to be charged. So how do you charge one in an emergency? I carry an external battery charger, like this one, in my kit. This allows me one extra charge in an emergency. Now, this works well with my old phone, but it may not provide enough power for some of the newer smart phones. However, there are a variety of different size power banks that will meet your needs. I ordered an extra one from today that provides 6000 amh of power and will charge smartphones and tablets. Perhaps by the time you read this, even more powerful battery packs will be on the market.
Many of these devices can be charged from a Goal Zero or equivalent solar panel in an emergency. The new solar powered flashlight from Hybridlight has a connection so that you can charge your phone from it and still have 2 ½ hours of light left. I have one of these flashlights and love it. I can recommend them.
Cell phones may be your best solution for emergency communications in many types of emergencies because it only takes a split second for a text message to get through.