21 Aug 2014
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Text First, Talk Second During Hurricane Sandy

Monmouth County Freeholder Serena DiMaso collaborated on this public service announcement about using texting instead of land lines after a flood, earthquake, hurricane or tornado.

In a campaign to encourage Americans to "be prepared, not scared" in emergencies, Freeholder Serena DiMaso of Holmdel collaborated with the National Foundation for Women Legislators and the Safe America Foundation to encourage Americans to do a “texting drill."

The text-messaging drill, to be used in emergencies, is just two steps. 

  • The first step is pre-determining who you would contact in any emergency and entering their cell numbers into your cell phone.
  • The second step is conducting a text drill using a safety shorthand developed by Safe America. For example, parents can initiate the drill by sending all their children the message ‘R U OK’ (7865). The person receiving the text message replies with the short ‘I M OK’(4665).

"The idea is that many times circuits are busy, and phone lines cannot connect," said DiMaso, who created the video for the September 2011 National Preparedness Month. 

For millions of Americans, the idea that they can rely on texting in an emergency could be a new concept.  

But it makes sense because, during 9/11 as well as the earthquake on the east coast, wireless networks that were unable to transmit a cell voice call could still send and receive text messages.

"Plus in times of emergency we should not be jamming up the phone lines to check on how someone is doing, we should leave the lines open for emergency services," said DiMaso. 

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