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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Communication: What's your plan B?

Starting last Saturday or so, our phone line became staticky, if that's a word. Not just the "wow, you sound like you're in Jamaica" static, but the "I think that's a radio station but I can't tell if they are singing or talking" static. Not good. Inconvenient. Annoying. And all that. So a repair person was called, came to the house, tested the line, left a number, and left. We picked up the phone. Still radio-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-static. So the repair person was called again. There was no improvement until this morning.

To be fair, the static was inconsistent--sometimes you could tell who you were talking to, and what they were saying, and sometimes you couldn't. The most monumental of these problems came yesterday, right before school. Someone from the school called, and I heard someone speaking, and used deductive reasoning to figure out who was on the other end of the line. Thing is, I couldn't be sure I was right. I finally explained that our phone was acting up, and said that the person should call my husband's cell phone. I'm pretty sure that the speaker on the other end said that they would do that, and the conversation was over.

I was fortunate in this instance because I knew where my children were at the time--with my husband, who was driving them to school because of the extremely cold weather we have been experiencing lately. Hence, I also knew where my husband was (which was helpful because he was in the proximity of the situation and had a phone that worked). Suffice it to say that if you have already (correctly) surmised that I am somewhat of a worry-wart, you can imagine how I would have felt if I thought there was an emergency involved, and there was no way to take care of it quickly. So, I am extremely grateful that the timing was such as it was. I still wanted to make sure that my husband had been contacted, and that he knew to talk to the teacher I thought had called, so I went to the computer and texted him a message. When we did talk to each other (for some reason, though the static was still there, we managed to make do when his cell phone was involved) he told me that they needed extra help in one of the classrooms that day, so he was able to tell the teacher (yay, I was right about which one had called) that I could come in. Situation handled. But definitely not in the way that we would ordinarily have handled it.

What if it had been an emergency, and normal methods of communication were not available, as in this case, to even learn about the problem? I outlined my plan B, but I think that this experience has highlighted the fact to me that when ordinary communication services are disrupted, you may end up with a problem whose solution is not food, water, warmth, etc., especially if the people in your group are separated when the emergency strikes. There may be people not in your immediate group that you would worry about in the case of an emergency--what's your plan B when it comes to communication when ordinary means (such as phones and even cell phones) don't work out?

Sometime this morning after I checked and heard the roar of a thousand seashells over the phone, I checked again, and our line had finally cleared up. Not a problem now, and I'm grateful for that. Would it surprise you to read that now I am going to look up more options that would help with the communication portion of emergency preparedness? I can only think of one option at the moment that would help with emergency communication in the midst of a crisis, but it would have to be set up well in advance. I'll save the only one that I've heard of for another post, and leave you with the question: (hoping, of course, that you'll end up giving me more options :)

What do you have set up in terms of communication methods in the case of an emergency, and how does it work?

Hey, if you share, we'll all have more options. Gotta love more options... :)


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