Inclement weather always comes with its own set of critical issues, from flooding to power outages.
This hurricane season, like others before it reminds us that it’s time again to take some necessary preparations for our personal safety as well as taking care of business. A common denominator that’s usually at the forefront for those in business is how do we communicate during the storm? Since SMBs and larger firms have an ongoing need to maintain business continuity no matter what the weather, staying in contact with our business partners and customers is of the utmost importance.
Moving Past Copper-wire Based Phone Systems
Folks who continue to use legacy phone systems [ aka POT ] are the most vulnerable during hurricanes. Relying on the transference of voice data via copper wires is anachronistic in the 21st Century. Any damage to one’s telephone wire infrastructure has the potential to affect whole cities and states, putting small business owners and large corporations at risk until they are repaired, usually days after the storm has passed. This is particularly significant when a hurricane system moves inland, as it did on the East Coast with Superstorm Sandy in late October, 2012.
In critical situations where it’s mandatory to evacuate your home or place of business because you are in the direct path of the storm, you wouldn’t be able to use your traditional phone system that’s physically bound to the premises you are departing from.
However, if you subscribed to a VoIP system such as Telzio, all you would have to do is click on your cellphone’s browser or run their app to activate communication from any remote location.
VoIP Communication, smart idea no matter what the weather . . .
Since VoIP phones rely on Internet connectivity to transmit packets of voice data from one location to another, its usage by SMBs and larger brands have grown exponentially during the last decade. In today’s ever-advancing technological terrain, it’s currently the most reliable voice system, in addition to being portable and providing you with a myriad number of bells-and-whistle features not found on your previous legacy phone service.
With a VoIP plan, like Telzio’s, your phone service of hosted PBX systems is a telephonic infrastructure that is decentralized and housed in the cloud.
Power-hunting to weather Matthew . . .
However, relying on cell phones for your VoIP service during hurricanes in and of itself can be challenging. As Hurricane Matthew is currently making its way up the East Coast this October — while it’s already made landfall in the Caribbean and Florida — high winds, heavy rains and storm surges are predicted further north as well.
Georgia, the Carolinas and other northern states have already declared a state of emergency and urged their respective populace to evacuate. So utility companies are already warning that tens of millions of people may be without power for days.
So to stay connected on your cell phone and VoIP service, here are some tips for power-hunters during the storm.
1- For starters, keep your cellphone plugged into a charger until the power goes out.
2- Restart your phone to kill all the apps currently running.
This will assure that no unnecessary apps are running in the background, draining power by making the phone’s microprocessor assume extra work.
3- Portable Chargers
Until our cellphones get longer and longer battery life, a portable charger might be the best solution. Here, you will find 30 of the best portable chargers that money can buy, with battery lives that can extend your existing phone’s battery 2-3 fold.
4- Always important to fully charge your phones, laptops and tablets
It’s easy to forget that our cellphones continue to charge when they are plugged into our laptops via the USB port — because the laptops’ battery juice in most instances will have a longer life than our cellphones. To secure even more battery power, restart your laptop to kill all running and applications and processes. Then dim the screen as low as it will go and don’t use it for any other purpose than to charge your cellphone. From that point forward, plug your low-charged phone into the laptop to parasitically drain your laptop’s battery.
5- Turn off all “push” notifications on your phone
Social media, email servers, news services and various apps send you “push” notifications that require your phone to suck more power in order to receive data from remote locations. Here’s how to switch your Android and iPhone notifications off. Turning all notifications off can extend your battery life significantly. You can also turn off “location services” which works in a similar fashion.
6- Reduce the brightness on your screen
Brightness intensity on phones is another major battery drain. Reduce the brightness display to the lowest level where you can still view your data.
7- As soon as power goes down in your area, turn off all the radios on your phone you’re not using: WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.
Your phone’s radios are a major drain on battery life. If you want to leave the phone connected to the cell network in case of emergency text messages or incoming calls, that’s fine. But if you don’t need to browse the Internet, turning off WiFi will preserve battery life, as will turning off the Bluetooth radio. Bluetooth is used to connect with headsets, keyboards and other accessories. If these are not needed, this step can secure your charge for longer periods of time.
On an iPhone, these radios can be turned off on the “settings” screen: Here’s a short video depicting how to do that with your iPhone. And here are similar instructions for an Android device.
8- Car Charge
If you have a car that’s operational, you can recharge your cellphones battery each time it drains.
VoIP phone systems like Telzio’s also allow you to receive voicemail messages via email, and make it possible for you to conduct conference calls with as many people as you like. This way, you never miss out on important client messages or company updates, regardless of weather conditions.
However, in all instances, we should all be cognizant that our safety is more important that communicating with the outside world. So under extreme weather conditions, it’s critical to be prudent by first taking care of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs before getting back to business. This theory strongly suggests that the most basic level of needs — that is, physiological and safety — should always take precedent over the higher level needs of ‘esteem’ and ‘self-actualization.’ Stay safe by seeking higher ground and identifying shelter and food first — before VoIPing your way through the next current hurricane. Steady as she blows!
Ron is a business and tech writer for Telzio's blog. Previously the Director of Advertising and Public Relations for Marriott International's Caribbean and Mexico division, Ron is the published author of Crude Behavior, Uncle Dubya's Jihad Jamboree and the award-winning graphic novel Facebucks.