Tuesday, November 6, 2012

7 ways cell phones become a lifeline to staff, students & parents during a disaster #Sandy

During the recent Hurricane Sandy Disaster, many people lost their homes, their power, phone service and internet, but one thing most didn't lose was their cell phones. Cell phones became a lifeline to those affected by the disaster. In fact in New York City, cell phones were delivered to relocation host school sites as well as schools that reported no phone service.

Here are some ways cell phones are being used in recovery efforts.
1) Facebook - 
Though many people didn't know the extent of the disaster or how friends and family fared, the Facebook app on cell phones brought the reality of loved ones to life where words, pictures, and videos could be viewed and shared. Schools with Facebook pages or groups made this resource particularly useful enabling a community to connect in one spot.
2) Twitter - 
Knowing hashtags like #SandyNYC as well as district, school, and educator Twitter accounts enabled parents and their children to stay abreast of and share the latest updates. Schools using a Twitter hashtag enabled the school community to easily check in and share.
3) Robo-calling - 
Schools and districts used Robo-calling services to automate the distribution of information to staff and families with the latest updates on school openings, closures, evacuation sites, warmth shelters, food banks, etc.
4) Donations - 
Organizations like the Red Cross set up text donation services. For example, by simply texting REDCROSS to 90999 you can donate $10 to help those affected by disasters.
5) Cell phone calls - 
When businesses and residents found their phone service was down, many turned to cell phones to communicate.
6) Texting - 
Texting became the go to form of communication to quickly connect with students, parents, and staff.
7) Group Texting - 
Schools and teachers who set up group texting with a service like Cel.ly enabled the school or class community to stay in touch, connect, and help those in need.

One of the many lessons learned during the recent Hurricane Sandy disaster is the importance of having a crank radio, flashlight, cell phone charger like the one below.
Eton Microlink FR160 Self-Powered AM-FM Weather Radio with Flashlight
This enabled people to stay informed and in touch about important issues. After all, having a cell phone does you no good if it's not charged.

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