In an emergency, most of us pull out our cellphones. With Hurricane Dorian possibly bringing the Tampa Bay area lots of rain and high winds, power outages can happen, which can knock out cell phone service as well.
ABC Action News checked with the top three carriers: Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T. They've all boasted they've been preparing for months.
AT&T says in preparation for Dorian, the company topped off fuel generators, tested high-capacity back-up batteries at cell sites, protected facilities against flooding, and moved electronic essential to network operations above flood levels. They've also set up teams in Southeast Florida to set up 40 cell on heels and cell on light trucks, two emergency communication vehicles and emergency communications portables and two cell on wings or COWs.
AT&T used COWs when Michael hit the panhandle. It's a drone that's connected to a signal and gave customers service within a 3-mile radius.
Verizon says they have back up power and generators on standby at their cell sites. In case Verizon fiber optic cables get cut or damaged, the company added satellite enabled portable equipment.
T-Mobile says they'll deploy engineers, field technicians and community relief teams to some of the hardest hit areas. And they're sending T-Mobile relief trucks with emergency equipment and supplies. If you're a T-Mobile customer with a certain phone, you can sign up for wireless emergency alerts by visiting www.t-mobile.com/wea.
Verizon provided these tips to stay connected during Dorian:
- Charge your device batteries
- Enable emergency alerts
- Save emergency contacts and make a hard copy, too
- Back up your data
- Download a weather app, like Storm Shield
- Keep your devices and chargers dry with waterproof cases or reusable plastic bags
- Keep chargers and cords nearby
- Keep your portable power bank charged