Consumer Action and AT&T offer ‘11 great ways your smartphone can work in an emergency’

How to use wireless technology before, during and after emergencies

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SAN FRANCISCO — As consumers increasingly rely on mobile phones and smartphones, these technologies are rapidly becoming among the first tools consumers reach for in an emergency. Approximately 70 percent of 911 calls are placed from a mobile phone and 74 percent of consumers have used a mobile phone in an emergency. According to one recent study, 19 percent of consumers had used their mobile phone to get help in an emergency in the last 30 days.

Recognizing the role mobile phones play in emergencies, Consumer Action and AT&T today released tips to help consumers make the best use of smartphones and wireless technology in an emergency. 

Whether they are facing power outages in California or hurricanes in Florida, consumers are benefitting from new mobile technologies that give them new choices and new tools they can use to be better prepared. AT&T and Consumer Action, a national, nonprofit education and advocacy organization, are working together to educate the public about options for using smartphones and mobile technology before, during and after emergencies occur.

“Emergencies strike when we least expect it, which is why being prepared is so important,” said Ken McEldowney, executive director of Consumer Action. “Our goal is to increase consumer awareness about their options for using wireless technology to prepare for and respond to emergency situations.” 

“Each day new wireless technologies are being developed that can help make families, businesses and communities safer,” said Ken McNeely, president of AT&T California. “We’re glad to be able to work with Consumer Action to help educate consumers about these choices.”

11 great ways your smartphone can work smarter in an emergency

Consumer Action and AT&T offer these tips on how you can use your mobile phone to prepare for and respond to emergencies:

  1. Be Prepared: Use apps, such as FEMA’s emergency preparedness app, to develop and implement emergency preparedness plans for your family, colleagues and loved ones.
  2. Stay Charged: Use solar-powered and hand crank chargers and batteries. These chargers allow you to rely on your electronics and wireless devices even in a power outage.
  3. Stay Connected: Use database and location-based apps to find loved ones during and after a disaster. Register yourself with the American Red Cross “Safe and Well” database and search for other loved ones that have registered to say they are okay. You can also use AT&T FamilyMap, which provides peace of mind by enabling you to conveniently locate a family member from your wireless phone or PC and know that your family's information is secure and private.
  4. Keep It in the Cloud: Store your important documents, such as personal and financial records, in a password-protected area in the Cloud. New cloud services allow you to access your vital information anytime from anywhere with Internet access and to safely store your work where it’s not vulnerable to a damaged or left-behind computer.
  5. Get Help! Consider downloading a smartphone global positioning satellite app. GPS phone trackers have the ability to deliver short messages and your GPS pinpoint location to a preferred list of contacts of your choosing in the event of an emergency.
  6. Use Quick Response (QR) Codes: QR code technology can help first responders prevent misdiagnoses and adverse drug reactions in treatment of emergency victims.
  7. See & Be Seen/Send an SOS: Use your smartphone as a flashlight when the power is down. There are flashlight apps for almost all smartphones (many of them are free) that use either your screen or camera flash to help you find what you need during a power outage—or help you to be found. Many flashlight apps even offer a Morse code SOS feature.
  8. Help Others: Apps such as Phone Aid offer a series of quick educational and instructive “how to” slideshows designed to help jog your memory on skills such as administering CPR. It also shows basic first aid measures you may need to perform while you wait for emergency personnel to respond.
  9. Locate Resources: Use mobile maps to find help and resources after a disaster. American Red Cross: Shelter View provides a searchable map of shelter locations by address, city, state and/or ZIP code and is updated every 30 minutes from the National Shelter System. It even includes the shelter capacity and how many residents are currently there.
  10. Stay Informed: Create a list of Twitter handles to follow during a disaster. For example, the U.S. Geological Survey is currently studying how they can give better earthquake information via Twitter. Their official handle, @USGSted, tweets out information on occurrences of earthquakes with magnitudes of 5.5 or higher. They currently have a California-specific earthquake handle—@USGS_EQ_CA.
  11. Spread the Word: Use social media and smartphone apps to help disseminate information about severe weather in real time and warn others. The NOAA Now app provides weather info from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including reports of hurricanes, tropical storms, mainland storms and tornado and severe thunderstorm alerts.
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About Consumer Action

Consumer Action has been a champion of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. A nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, Consumer Action focuses on financial education that empowers low- to moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers to financially prosper. Our diverse staff provides expert commentary on key consumer issues supported by solid data. We offer access to victim testimony, as well as expertise on current financial issues affecting underserved populations.

About AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a premier communications holding company and one of the most honored companies in the world. Its subsidiaries and affiliates—AT&T operating companies—are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet, voice and cloud-based services. A leader in mobile broadband and emerging 4G capabilities, AT&T also offers the best wireless coverage worldwide of any U.S. carrier, offering the most wireless phones that work in the most countries. It also offers advanced TV services under the AT&T U-verse® and AT&T │DIRECTV brands. The company’s suite of IP-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world. In domestic markets, AT&T Advertising Solutions and AT&T Interactive are known for their leadership in local search and advertising. Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at http://www.att.com. This AT&T news release and other announcements are available at http://www.att.com/newsroom and as part of an RSS feed at www.att.com/rss. Or follow our news on Twitter at @ATT. © 2012 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. Mobile broadband not available in all areas. AT&T, the AT&T logo and all other marks contained herein are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. *AT&T is not responsible, nor liable for, any statements, claims, or services provided by third party apps mentioned above or your use of such third party applications.

 

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