Cell Phones are Key to Staying Safe and Connected During a Disaster

Your cell phone can help you stay safe during a disaster. Don't wait until one happens. Get prepared today!

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On Friday, I was going about my normal routine.  Since my class had just started for the Fall semester, I was checking my emails extra often to see if any students had contacted me with questions about the syllabus or upcoming assignments.  I was shocked when I was notified by my department that I have a student affected by Hurricane Harvey.  Even though it was not me personally being affected by the hurricane, it kinda hit me hard.  I felt like, wow, someone I am in contact with has been devastated by Hurricane Harvey.  

Then, I turned on the television only to learn that another potentially damaging storm, Hurricane Irma, is barreling its way towards the United States.  A few years ago, I did a previous interview on the local news about why cell phones don’t work after natural disasters.  So with all that has happened and that may happen with the weather, I thought I’d revisit a previous interview I did with the local news about using cell phones and technology during a disaster or emergency.

Cell Phones

Nowadays, almost everyone has a cell phone.  That can be seen as a blessing or a curse.  However, in the case of a natural disaster, that is a beautiful thing.  But we normally hear the opposite about cell phones, right?  Because right after a natural disaster, we hear a lot about people not being able to use their cell phones.  Most people think cell phones are useless in emergency situations.  But I am going to show you how a cell phone is a handy device that keeps you safe and connected during an emergency.   

A few years ago, I was asked by WUSA 9 News in Washington, DC to discuss why cell phones didn’t work after natural disasters.  The main reason cell phones may not work during a disaster is because of call volume.  When a disaster occurs, everyone’s first instinct is to call their loved ones and make sure they are safe.  Cell phone companies know this and estimate the call volume if a disaster strikes.  They make preparations based on their estimates for that level of cell phone usage.  However, if the call volume exceeds the estimate, then calls get dropped and won’t go through.  The result is that people can’t make cell phone calls during this scary time to make sure their loved ones are okay.  So what can you do to make sure you reach your loved ones when a disaster strikes?  Read on…

3 Tips on How to Stay Connected Using Your Cell Phone during a Disaster

  1. Text on your cell phone instead of making a voice call.  Sending a text uses less bandwidth and is more likely to go through.  Text messaging will still work even if cellular networks fail.  So, if you can’t make a cell phone call, text everyone to make sure they’re safe.
  2. Most phones have internet service, so use Twitter or Facebook to connect with your loved ones.  Think about creating a family page just in case.
  3. Download apps like GroupMe and The Silent Beacon – Personal Emergency Alert System.  GroupMe is a free app that lets up to 25 people text, talk and share locations. The Silent Beacon – Personal Emergency Alert System send out your GPS coordinates via email or text message.  Use both of these apps to track and talk to your loved ones during an emergency.

Questions to Ask Your Cell Phone Carrier

Talk to your cell phone carriers about how they increase signal strength during high surges or handle call volume when disasters occur.   Here are some things you can inquire about.

  1. Some cell phone carriers have websites that allow customers to view what areas have and don’t have signal strength.  Ask your cell phone carrier if this option is available to customers.
  2. If we know bad weather is coming, cell phone companies may bring portable cell phone towers to those areas.  Ask if your cell phone carrier if this is an option.
  3. Ask your cell phone carrier if they have an emergency plan online.

Get Prepared!

Everyone should prepare ahead of time for a disaster.  Here are some things to do ahead of time:

  1. Each family should create a Family Communication Plan for emergencies.  It should detail a place where everyone should meet-up and have a designated point of contact that everyone has to check in with.
  2. Keep cell phones charged if bad weather is coming.  Also buy and charge extra batteries.
  3. Buy phones that jack directly into the wall.  They cost about $10.  These phones don’t need a base or charger.  Your phone will still work if the electricity goes out.
  4. Two-way radios work in any situation and they only cost about $60. The radios have dozens of channels for families to communicate over. Buy them beforehand and store in your emergency kit.
  5. Buy a radio that’s powered via a wall outlet, batteries or an included solar panel.

September is National Preparedness Month.  So there is no better time than the present to prepare for an emergency situation.  Use the above information, you can plan ahead for a disaster.   Also, check out websites like fema.gov and ready.gov for more tips and guidelines.  Unfortunately, with all that is happening, I can’t help but think that disaster is not just something that just might happen one day, but is something that we have to expect and be prepared for.  So plan accordingly.

No one thinks this will happen to them.  On the news we hear about tsunamis in Indonesia, earthquakes in Turkey and Hurricanes in Texas.  But they all seem so far away from us.  But it can happen to us.  And getting that email that a student of mine has been affected by Hurricane Harvey was a wake-up call for me.  Anyone’s life could be turned upside down in an instant by an emergency or natural disaster.  When these natural disasters do occur, they normally occur quickly.  So, start preparing today so you won’t get caught off guard.  You don’t want to be stuck in Walmart with the masses trying to buy batteries and flashlights.  Today start talking to your family about what you will do if a disaster strikes. Here’s hoping you’ll never have to use this information.  But just in case you do, you’ll be prepared.  Because disasters don’t plan ahead.  But you can.

You Need the Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones

You guys know that my dearly beloved Beats by Dre headphones died about a month ago.  So it was time to invest in another pair of headphones.  I kept putting it off because I didn’t feel like taking the time to find out what the best headphones were.  You see, I love to research things before I buy them.  But with school starting and a couple of other projects on deck, I didn’t want to add another thing to my “To Do” list.  But I had to do something soon because my workouts were suffering.  Well, one day I came home and boom, my hubby had the new Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones.  He was touting them as the new hotness but I was skeptical.  But after I tried them, I was completely wowed.

EASE OF USE

These headphones have so many cool features and advantages.  I will tell you about the ones that I was most impressed with.  The Bose QuietComfort headphones are lightweight and wireless so you don’t have to worry about getting tangled up in any wires.  Users can expect about 20 hours of battery life from these headphones (which is just amazing – that’s like almost a whole day!).  And even double the battery life if wired.  However, you will need to download the Bose connect app so you can easily manage pairing your headphones to your devices.  In other words, since the headphones are wireless, you’ll need to tell the headphones which device (iPad, phone, etc.) it needs to get the audio from.

NOISE CANCELLATION

I love to travel but usually I get bored and antsy on flights.  I love to bring my iPad and watch movies to distract me and pass the time while in flight.  I have bought numerous noise-cancellation headphones in the past to use on airplane rides.  For me, there is nothing worse than getting on a flight, getting all comfortable and realizing that I can’t hear the audio with my noise-cancelling headphones once I hit the play button.  Horrible.  I just want to cry when that happens.  But you won’t have that problem with the Bose QuietComfort wireless headphones.  No sir!  These headphones are amazing.  They block out the outside noise and you can hear the audio crystal clear.

COST

These headphones will run you about $350.  Now, I know that ain’t cheap but it’s worth it.  I am definitely on a budget.  In all purchases, I’m always looking for ways to save money and stretch a dollar.  However, I’m at the point in my life where it doesn’t pay to spend less money if I don’t get the desired result.  Do you know what I’m saying?  That’s just a waste of time and money for me.  I’m happy to pay a little more for things if it is exactly what I want and need.  Have no fear, get them now.  These headphones are worth every cent.

I have used Bose products (like my alarm clock) for many years.  And I can truly say these headphones are another great product by this company.   So, have you used a Bose product before?   Are you in need of new headphones?  Or are you one of those people who love to rock the latest and greatest tech toys?  Let me know your answers in the comment section below.  But if you answered yes to any of these questions, this is the product for you.   I would love to know what you think about these headphones.

Back to School Tech

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmastime. Back to School time is the most wonderful time of the year. Parents know what I’m talking about. Can I get an amen? Let me stop playing. Anyway, as we head back to school and pursue different types of educational endeavors, it’s important to have the right tech to make learning easier. So, here are my top tech must-haves to have a successful school year.

#1 – The Apple iPad

If you don’t have an iPad, then you don’t have anything.  That is really how I feel about it.  With an iPad, you can take it with you everywhere to take notes, record your lectures and so much more. Here I am with 2 of my iPads that I cannot live without. Make sure to get a case or smart cover to protect your iPad because you will drop it. And if you have little kids like I do, they will for sure drop it! Lol! If you want the exact iPad and smart covers that I have, head on over to my Store page, look under the “Tech” section and pick it up.

Back to School ipad

#2 – Skull Candy Earbuds

On any campus, you see kids zipping around campus talking on the phone and listening to their favorite tunes on these must-have earbuds.  Even if you’re not in school, you gotta have these for the gym, the subway or whatever.  They have a microphone and built-in remote so you can control the volume and talk.  Sweet!
Skull Candy earbuds

#3 – FitBit Aria

Now I know some are you are looking at this one like, what?!? But yep, I did put this on the list as a back-to-school must. Why? Because school is stressful and students have to stay healthy. That hardcore, super-focused student may want to study all day, but really he or she needs to study for a few hours, take a break and be sure to exercise daily. You’ll be more focused and do better in school if you eat right, exercise and get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. I live by my Fitbit Aria and am always trying to get my 10,000 steps in daily. What about you? What exercise do you like to do? Shoot hoops? Run track? Dance? Let me know in the comments.

Fitbit Aria

Have a great school year, everyone!

AMC Theaters to Allow Texting During Movies?

Let’s check out the top three trending Twitter topics for this week.  Dr. Marcella Wilson discusses these top three stories that trended on Twitter this week.

  1.  AMC Theaters to allow texting?  That’s right!  AMC Theatres are considering allowing texting in certain sections of the theater during movies.  What do you think about that?  Would you go to an AMC Theater if people could text during the movie?  Well, people were talking about it on Twitter.
  2. This week, people were also tweeting about baseball superstar and Civil Rights icon, Jackie Robinson getting his own day. Did you know that the baseball contract Jackie Robinson signed with the New York Dodgers is largely considered to be the founding document of the Civil Rights movement?  Wilson discusses Jackie Robinson’s huge honor.
  3. #MambaDay took over Twitter as Kobe Bryant ended his illustrious 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. On his last game, the stars came out in full force to watch him drop 60 points and win the game.  I cannot believe that Kobe Bryant is retiring from the NBA.

So watch the Pop Tech video above where Dr. Wilson breaks down what is going on in your AMC Movie Theater, Jackie Robinson’s huge honor and some fun Kobe Bryant news.

Mobile Phones in the Cold Weather

Hey, it’s cold outside!  As winter rages on, we are careful about protecting our skins, face and body from the harsh winter elements.  But how about your cell phone?  We are always on our cell phones as we are out and about during the day.  But do you ever wonder how the cold affects your mobile phone?  Did you know that exposing your flip phone, smartphones and other cellular phones can actually damage them?  Check out the video about as Lifestyle Tech Expert Dr. Marcella Wilson explains how to keep your mobile phones operational during the harsh winter cold.

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