In order to prevent phone networks from getting congested during national weather emergencies, it is better to send text messages instead, said Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
On May 30, Fugate spoke at a White House press briefing to update the media on the United States' preparedness for hurricane season 2012.
"There is no forecast yet that says where they are going to hit or not hit. So if you live along the Gulf Coast, the Atlantic, and as far inland as the folks in Vermont found out last year, you need to be prepared for this hurricane season," Fugate said.
Since the U.S. government is working to improve and extend its public warning system beyond radio and television networks to include mobile phones, Fugate underlined the fact that most new cell phones have the technology to receive such notifications. He added that individuals should add battery-powered cell phone chargers to their storm emergency kits.
Fugate went on to say that homes without landlines should be ready to charge phones during power cuts and to have alternative communication plans ready, just in case wireless phone networks also experience network congestion. Text messaging, for example, is faster and will get through, he said.
Fugate added that using social media sites would also be a quick and easy way to send updates to friends and family.
Businesses can also take these considerations into account when planning for a national emergency. Text messages and social media updates are good ways to stay in contact with employees about the current state of the business continuity plan. By pairing with a disaster consulting firm, executives can be assured that their employees are properly educated and that the business will be able to bounce back upon recovery.