Cell Phone and Social Media in Emergencies

Whether it’s an earthquake, a tornado, a tsunami, floods or any number of other disasters, one of the givens is that more than likely you’ll end up without power. It’s one thing to know that and be prepared with backup heat, ways to cook, etc… but there’s more to it than that.

According to the FEMA website, your cell phone and your laptop can become an important part of your emergency back up plan.

First of all, before any emergency or disaster strikes, start by texting PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA) to get texts from FEMA in the event of an emergency. Knowing if and when help is on the way is crucial. Knowing how to help as well.

Texts are a lot more likely to get through than phone calls. They also don’t tie up the lines as long or as much. Send a group text to let family and friends know you’re okay or what the situation is. Try to conserve battery power as much as possible and keep a spare battery on hand for back up power.

Here’s on that I realized a couple of years back when we were without power for almost a week:

If you have a traditional landline (non-broadband or VOIP) phone, keep at least one non-cordless receiver in your home because it will work even if you lose power.

For more tips on technology in case of emergency check out the FEMA “Get Tech Ready” page.


Steering Clear of Distracted Driving

We mentioned last week on this blog that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and provided you with a link to the NSC website.
The ASSE (The American Society of Safety Engineers) has also put together a webpage with a lot of really great information about how to avoid being one of the estimated 5,474 people killed on the roads each year due to distracted driving.

The average teenager stays “connected” via cell phone and computer 24/7. The idea of disconnecting for however long it takes to drive from point A to point B is absolutely unthinkable to them; so much might happen in that amount of time (Just witness the speed at which a Facebook post disappears down the page and gets lost). Unless we can get them (and us) to understand how life threatening this really is, we are going to see an ever increasing number of people die on our roads.

The ASSE website page entitled “Prevent Distracted Driving” has some great documentation regarding research that has been done and the results of those studies.

Two studies that are available on their website that are especially interesting:
Distracted Driving – Examining the effects of in-vehicle tasks
Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving What you should know and how to get you there safely!
Managing Unsafe Drivers & Their Unsafe Habits

The first of the above links has a number of charts and diagrams illustrating response times based on travelling at 50 mph or 60 mph and the devastating consequences. Do yourself and your teenagers a favor and learn to turn off your cell phone while driving. It is simply too tempting if it is on and you hear a message come through or the phone ring.

Cell Phones, Blackberries, MP3 Players & Workplace Safety

‘My job is primarily a desk job. I update the website, write documents, do graphic and desktop publishing work and more. While I am in an office setting with co-workers and customers around my safety does not depend on being able to hear them so I sometimes wear an MP3 player with an ear piece in one ear (in order to hear what’s going on with the other). I sometimes will text or use my cell phone during the day. The nature of my job doesn’t make this an unsafe practice.

This is not necessarily the case for everyone. Auditory distractions can be a safety issue in most plants and construction sites. MP3 players, while nice to relieve the boredom of monotonous tasks, can interfere with a worker being able to hear what’s going on around him or her. Cell phones can ring and cause distractions at crucial moments. Texting can distract as well.

While this technology isn’t that new, most safety plans haven’t been updated to reflect the companies’ policy regarding the use of these devices. It might be time to look at your documentation to make sure that employees are clear as to your companies’ policies regarding these devices so that there is no ambiguity. Preemptive planning, after all, is the name of the game in the world of safety.

So here’s the question… What is the policy regarding mobile devices and MP3s at your company? Are they banned all together? All the allowed with certain restrictions? Post a comment and let us know.