TECH BYTE: Preparing for Severe Weather

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — It’s Severe Weather and Flood Preparedness Week in Tennessee.

You obviously want to be prepared if you’re impacted by any storms, and technology can help.

Verizon’s Kate Jay says when severe weather strikes, they want to be ready to keep their customers and first responders connected.

One of the most critical pieces of Verizon’s network is their mobile switching centers, or “switches.”

“These are really the brains of our network,” Jay said. “If you think about when you try to place a call, or post on Facebook, make that data connection, these super secret facilities are where all those connections come in, they’re processed, and then they go back out, so you can post that photo, you make that call.”

Jay says these switches are built to handle storms. Some can even withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

“So many redundancies are built in to those facilities to ensure that if anything were to happen, that the customer would not feel that,” she said.

Obviously cell sites need power to operate. So how can cell phone companies handle power outages, which often happen during severe weather?

“We have the lion’s share of our cell sites, both battery and generator backup,” Jay said. “That means, if the commercial power goes out, those batteries kick in. They have about eight hours. Then, if the power’s still out after that time passes, the generators kick in. When we know severe weather’s coming, we’ll pre-stage fueling trucks, so that we can come in if there’s going to be extended power outages, that we can come in, and refuel those if we need to keep them running on a generator for maybe days at a time.”

Jay says they can also deploy mobile assets in any hard hit areas.

But if you want to use your phone, especially in these conditions, you need to take care of it by keeping it dry, for one.

“You can throw them in a Ziploc bag, of course there are waterproof cases, there are other protective accessories that you can get just to ensure that when you need those, that those devices are dry and remain functional.”

Of course keep your devices charged. Wireless chargers and even car chargers get the job done.

Also, have an emergency contact list, take pictures of your valuables, and download any weather-related phone apps to help you prepare.

You can get even more severe weather tips on verizonwireless.com.

For more stories on how the latest technology can change your everyday life, visit the TechByte page.

Categories: Local News, Tech Byte, Technology