EMA: What to do if emergency strikes without cell service

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Thousands of people woke up confused and some panicked when cell service across the nation was down.

AT&T was reported to have the largest outage.

In emergencies, 911 can literally be a lifeline.

Cindy Lawrence is the Lowndes County Emergency Management Director.

“Believe it or not, you still can call 911. We still had lots of people calling 911 because that’s really the only call they could make was 911. Even if you have an old cell phone that you don’t pay bills on anymore, you have an old cell phone, maybe two years old. All you have to do is charge it up, you can always dial 911 on any phone,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence said sometimes you can depend on some technology that’s been around since the late 1800s.

“If there’s a disaster and the power’s out, you can still use your telephone, your landline phone, and call 911,” said Lawrence.

Regardless of what happens, emergency dispatch services will be on the other end of the line when you need them the most.

“Dispatch is not affected if cell towers go down. We have landlines. Just like when ATT had an outage last night, they can reroute us. We will still have 911 lines regardless of what happens with the cell phones. We’ll still have our 911 line and people still have the capability of calling 911. In any type of disaster, you can still call 911,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence stressed the importance of having multiple ways of getting information in times of severe weather.

“Even though you have a cell phone and you may have mobile apps. And you’re right. If you can’t any of that information like if you have internet on your phone, maybe you can’t use the LTE or maybe you don’t have any type of WIFI on your phone, then yes, you’re right. You can go use a NOAA weather radio,” said Lawrence.

NOAA stands for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA weather radios are on an automated 24-hour network that broadcasts weather information directly from a nearby National Weather Service office.

“NOAA weather radio runs by battery. You can always get information on NOAA weather radio, especially when they talk about tornadoes coming into your area. You know if a tornado is somewhere within Lowndes County boundaries, then your NOAA weather radio will give you all the information. You know tell you where it’s located, where it’s heading, how it’s strengthened and the damage that it could cause, tell you when to take shelter,” said Lawrence.

If you already own a weather radio, come visit us here at the station and our meteorologists can program it for you.

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