Communication tips and tricks

We rely on technology more and more to keep in touch with our family, friends and colleagues with a click of a button. But what happens in the event of a major emergency? Technological tools can be vital in helping you and your family get in touch and stay informed.

Make your cell phone last longer during an emergency

  • Use text messaging, social media or email, which use less bandwidth than phone calls.
  • If you need to make a call, keep your conversation brief.
  • Turn your phone to airplane mode to save power for when you need it.
  • Reduce your screen's brightness.
  • Close apps you aren't using and decrease your phone's brightness.
  • Keep extra batteries or a charger in your emergency kit. Consider getting a solar-powered, crank or vehicle phone charger.
  • Keep a prepaid cell phone in your emergency kit (with spare batteries).

Sign up for official warnings:

Pay telephones Pay telephones are also emergency telephones. When you pick up the receiver, the line may sound “dead.” Continue holding and wait for the dial tone.
GPS on your cell phone Most cell phones emit a GPS signal that cell phone companies can “ping” or contact to discover the nearest tower the signal is coming from. Police use this method to find missing persons so, if you are lost, stay in one place.
Contacts Keep your contacts up to date on your phone, email and other channels. This will make it easier to reach important contacts, such as friends, family, neighbours, schools and your insurance agent.
News sources There may be rumour, opinion and speculation about an event, especially on the internet. When making decisions for yourself and your family, rely on news that clearly comes from official sources such as local government officials, first responders, utilities and Environment Canada.
Social media When the internet is operating, use social networking sites to keep people up to date on your situation.
Contacting 911 Only call 911 when life is at risk. Tune into local radio stations to learn more about the event. e.g. The Q – 100.3 FM (the only broadcaster with 24/7 broadcast staff), C-FAX 1070, CBC Radio One – 90.5 FM, Ocean-FM 98.5
Landlines If landline phone service is working a simple phone will work during a power failure. Cordless phones rely on electricity and will not work during a power outage. If you have a landline, keep at least one corded phone in your home.
Service After a major disaster, home phone service might be restored last. Land lines for emergency officials, public services and businesses will have higher priority.

Remember, in an emergency or to save a life, call 9-1-1 for help. You cannot currently text 9-1-1. If you are not experiencing an emergency, do not call 9-1-1.