North Carolina: Be prepared for Hurricane Irma

As you read this and continue keeping the people in Texas and Louisiana in your thoughts and prayers, I know we are also closely watching Hurricane Irma as it moves through the Carribean and approaches the U.S. mainland.

In North Carolina, we know first-hand the power and unpredictability of hurricanes. So, as we all keep a close eye on the forecasts, I encourage you to make sure that you and your family are prepared and have a plan to stay safe in the event Irma comes here. To that end, I have included some Hurricane Preparation tips below. Please continue to follow your preparedness plan until the threat of Hurricane Irma passes and it is once again safe in our communities.

As the storm is expected to impact Florida over the weekend, AT&T has started its storm preparedness process as we closely monitor Hurricane Irma's anticipated track. Preparation includes topping off fuel generators, testing high-capacity back-up batteries at cell sites and protecting physical facilities against flooding. AT&T has also staged other emergency response equipment in strategic locations, and our national reliability center is monitoring outages for quick action.

AT&T is prepared, and with your personal plan in place, we will rise to meet the challenge of Irma and work with together to address post-Irma issues and restore our communities.

Please stay safe and thank you for what you do every day to keep North Carolina prepared to meet and beat challenges like Irma.

Sincerely,

Venessa Harrison
President — AT&T North Carolina

As we prepare, you should too. Everybody should also have a plan in place. When preparing for an evacuation or shelter-in-place, consider the following.

Customer Tips:

Keep your mobile phone battery charged. In case of a power outage, have another way to charge your phone, like an extra battery, car charger or device-charging accessory. Applicable sales tax holidays are a great time to stock up on cell phone accessories.

Keep your mobile devices dry. The biggest threat to your device during a hurricane is water. Keep it safe from the elements by storing it in a baggie or some other type of protective covering, like an Otterbox phone cover.

Have a family communication plan. Choose someone out of the area as a central contact. Make sure all family members know who to contact if they get separated. Most importantly, practice your emergency plan in advance.

Program all of your emergency contact numbers and e-mail addresses into your mobile phone. Numbers should include the police department, fire station, hospital and your family members.

Forward your home number to your mobile number in the event of an evacuation. Call forwarding is based out of the telephone central office. This means you will get calls from your landline phone even if your local telephone service is disrupted. If the central office is not operational, services such as voicemail and call forwarding may be useful.

Track the storm and access weather information on your mobile device. Many homes lose power during severe weather. You can stay up to speed as a DIRECTV customer, by streaming local weather channels using the DIRECTV app on your smartphone. If you subscribe to mobile DVR, you can also stream every channel directly to your phone.

Camera phones provide assistance. If you have a camera phone, take, store and send your insurance company photos and video clips of damage to your property.

Use location-based technology. Services like AT&T Navigator and AT&T FamilyMap can help you find evacuation routes or avoid traffic from downed trees and power lines. They can also track a family member’s wireless device if you get separated.

Limit social media activity. Keep social media activity to a minimum during and after a storm to limit network congestion and allow for emergency communications to go through.

Keep the lines open for emergencies. During evacuations, storm events and the aftermath, network resources will likely be taxed. To help ensure that emergency personnel have open lines, keep these tips in mind.

Text messaging. During an emergency situation, text messages may go through more quickly than voice calls because they require fewer network resources. All of the AT&T wireless devices are text messaging-capable. Depending on your text or data plan, additional charges may apply.

Be prepared for high call volume. During an emergency, many people are trying to use their phones at the same time. The increased calling volume may create network congestion, leading to “fast busy” signals on your wireless phone or a slow dial tone on your landline phone. If this happens, hang up, wait several seconds and then call again. This allows your original call data to clear the network before you try again.

Keep non-emergency calls to a minimum. Limit your calls to the most important ones. If there is severe weather, chances are many people will be attempting to place calls to loved ones, friends and business associates.

Go to www.att.com/vitalconnections for more information and tips on disaster preparedness.

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As the president of AT&T Georgia, Venessa Harrison is responsible for developing the overall strategic direction of AT&T's public policy and corporate activities across the state of Georgia.

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