Preserving the power of mobile technology during disaster

This week has been one of the most brutal of 2013 for American citizens.

Monday, April 15 — Patriots Day in the state of Massachusetts — crumbled to disaster for the city of Boston and the nation when two bomb blasts rocked the Boston Marathon close to the finish line on Boylston Street at around 3:00 p.m. Three people were killed and nearly 200 faced varying levels of severe injury.

Wednesday, April 17 also eroded to infamy when an explosion shook the West Fertilizer Plant near Waco, Texas, at 8:00 p.m. Investigators and responders estimate anywhere from five to 15 deaths and nearly 160 injuries.

It’s not even over and already the week of April 15-21 can be firmly characterized as a disaster. But amidst the horror of the Boston act of terrorism and the Texas industrial accident, people have been coming together in hope-replenishing fashion. One aspect helping to grease the magnetism? Technology.

Google documents were erected in the immediate wake of the Boston Marathon bombings to help loved ones locate their runners, family and friends when authorities called for a cease of cellular activity. Social network sites were ripe with information regarding housing and medical donations.

The prevalence of technology, mobile specifically, in the modern disaster setting proves to be a blessing indeed. Thus, it’s important for physicians and patients to keep in mind usage tips of how to handle and preserve such devices in the wake of disaster, natural or man-made.

Cigna recently released the following tips that are tried-and-true useful, which all technology-wielding patrons should implement as often as possible:

  • Turn your cell phone off. If you don’t need immediate access to your phone, turning it off between uses will conserve your battery.
  • Lower your display brightness. Set your display brightness as low as possible to save power.
  • Use “airplane” mode to disable unneeded radios. Connecting to wireless networks and 
Bluetooth devices is a drain on your battery that’s best avoided.
  • Turn off “push” notifications. That constant stream of updates from your social network is a constant drain on your phone’s power. Disable social notifications and apps to save your battery.
  • Speaking of apps, make sure they’re closed. Be sure to turn off any apps that are running in the background, as these drain your phone’s battery. It may be tempting, but avoid playing games also, as these can use a lot of your phone’s resources and drain the battery quickly.
  • Charge your phone and other electronic devices as much as possible. If you have time to prepare, top off the batteries on your devices. Remember, you can charge your phone using your laptop or tablet battery, through a USB connection.
  • If you’re driving, you can use your car to charge your phone. Do not use your phone while driving and obey all traffic laws. Especially during a disaster, you will need to be aware of driving conditions and emergency traffic changes.
  • Avoid network congestion. If your call doesn’t go through, wait at least 10 seconds before trying again. During and after the disaster, avoid using streaming services.
  • Consider using social media to re-connect after the disaster. If you need to update friends and family, the data network is usually less congested than voice calls. Posting a status update to your social network or sending a text can be a good option for non-emergency communication.

Find a copy of the tips to post in the office or on your refrigerator at home here.

These are disastrous times that we live in and it’s important to keep together with whatever tools are afforded to us. Implementing the above steps for your smartphone could provide not only you with much needed, lifesaving connectivity, but save enough juice to be utilized by your fellow-person who may be fighting alongside you to get through.