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FCC's Important Communications Tips for Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

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Released: October 31, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.


Washington, D. C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

October 31, 2012
Justin Cole, 202-418-8191



Washington, D.C. – In the wake of this week’s Hurricane Sandy, there are still millions of people
across the country who are without power. Accordingly, communications options are limited in many
areas. The Federal Communications Commission hereby provides the public with important tips for
communicating under these circumstances.
The FCC, in cooperation with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has developed
useful tips, practical advice and guidance to be followed in communicating during a natural disaster
emergency such as that presented by Hurricane Sandy. The following tips will make consumers aware of
their communications options so that they can effectively seek to maintain communications during these
emergency conditions:
Limit non-emergency phone calls. This will minimize network congestion, free up "space" on
the network for emergency communications and conserve battery power if you are using a
wireless phone;
Keep all phone calls brief. If you need to use a phone, try to do so only to convey vital
information to emergency personnel and/or family;
For non-emergency calls, try text messaging, also known as short messaging service (SMS),
when using your wireless phone. In many cases, text messages will go through when your
voice call may not. This will also help free up more network "space" for emergency
communications on the telephone network;
If you have trouble getting through using one communications service, try another. For
example, if you are unsuccessful in calling on your wireless phone, try a messaging capability
such as text messaging or email. Alternatively, try a landline phone, if one is available. This
will help spread the communications demand over multiple networks and should reduce
overall congestion;
Wait ten seconds before redialing a call. On many wireless handsets, in order to redial a
number, you simply push "send" after you've ended a call. However, if you do this too
quickly, the data from the handset to the cell sites do not have enough time to clear before
you've resent the same data. This contributes to a clogged network;
If in your vehicle, place calls only while your vehicle is stationary. Pull off the road to a safe
place to make the call;

If you have Call Forwarding on your home number, forward your home number to your
wireless number, particularly in the event of an evacuation. That way, you will receive
incoming calls from your landline phone;
If you do not have electric power in your home, consider using your car to charge your cell
phone or listen to news alerts on the car radio. But be careful – don’t try to reach your car if it
is not safe to do so, and remain vigilant about carbon monoxide emissions from your car if it
is a closed space, such as a garage;
Tune in to your local television or radio stations or access the Internet (via your desktop or
laptop computer, tablet or mobile phone) for important news alerts.
If you have a hearing disability, the audio information provided on television emergency
programming will be accompanied by visual information. Because this will typically be
provided through closed captions, make sure that you have your captions turned on your set.
If you have a hearing or speech disability and need to make a phone call, you can use relay
services to access assistance. In your local area, dial 711 to access these services by text or
by voice. Alternatively, you can access IP Relay or video relay services online.
If you have a visual disability, emergency information provided during televised news
programming will be provided in an audio format along with its visual format. If you are
watching regularly scheduled (non-news) programming and hear tones or beeps, this signals
that emergency information is being provided. Turn on your radio or call someone to get up-
to-date information about the emergency that is occurring.
You can find more information at,, or
News about the Federal Communications Commission can also be found
on the Commission’s web site

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