Saturday, January 8, 2011

Severe Winter Weather Threatens Georgia

/PRNewswire/ -- A winter storm is threatening Georgia this weekend and Verizon Wireless urges residents to have their emergency communications plans in place. The company offers the following tips:

* Keep wireless phone batteries fully charged – in case local power is lost – well before warnings are issued.
* Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power.
* Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.
* Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers – police, fire, and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; family, friends and co-workers; etc. – and program them into your phone.
* Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations. Send brief TXT messages rather than voice calls for the same reason.
* Check weather and news reports available on wireless phone applications when commercial power is out.

Experts are predicting icing of roads, some tree damage, and possible power outages Sunday night into Monday morning throughout central and northern Georgia. Regardless, the Verizon Wireless network is built for reliability in emergencies, with battery back up power at all facilities and generators installed at all switching facilities and many cell site locations. These preparations have proved critical during and after storms. In the aftermath of even the most devastating weather, the Verizon Wireless network in Georgia has remained strong while many other wireless communication networks struggled to serve emergency response officials and residents.

Additional Verizon Wireless preparation for severe weather events includes:

* The company has developed and practiced a comprehensive emergency response plan, including preparing emergency command centers in the case of a storm or crisis.
* The company's 3G EV-DO wireless broadband network and 4G LTE networks allows the most advanced wireless services (downloads, location-based applications, video messaging, etc.) for usage by residents and emergency agencies.
* Verizon Wireless is fully prepared to set up Wireless Emergency Communication Centers* (WECCs) to serve residents and rescue agencies in the area(s) in the greatest need.
* The company also has a fleet of Cells on Wheels (COWS) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTS), and generators on trailers (GOaTS) that can be rolled into hard-hit locations.
* Verizon Wireless pre-arranges fuel delivery to mobile units and generators to keep the network operating at full strength even if power is lost for an extended period of time.
* Installation of advanced in-building systems to boost wireless coverage and services at hospitals, government and emergency facilities, high-traffic public venues and other locations throughout Georgia.
* Verizon Wireless has a Communications Store on wheels* ready to roll. The 35-foot trailer allows Verizon Wireless to maintain retail operations in areas when company stores are not able to open or when retail services are needed in areas where natural disaster strikes, enabling customers to purchase the wireless phones and accessories they need.

"We work hard to ensure our customers and Georgia's emergency personnel can use their phones when and where they need it. We prepare our network all year long, through extensive investments, to be ready for storms and other emergencies," said Jeff Mango, region president for Verizon Wireless Georgia/Alabama.

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