Staying connected during an emergency - CBS46 News

Staying connected during an emergency

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ATLANTA (CONSUMER REPORTS) -

When a bad storm hits and knocks out power, keeping your lines of communication open can be a big challenge.

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Consumer Reports offered several key moves that can help.

"Consider getting a prepaid phone on a network that's different from your main phone. Having access to two networks increases your chances of getting a signal," said Consumer Reports' Mike Gikas.

If calls aren't getting through, try texting. Texts can often get through when calls can't because the data demands are smaller.

"And for those who don't yet text, it's time to learn," said Gikas. "If you have older family members, get them started. It's really important."

You also don't want your phone to go dead, so consider getting an extra battery. If you have an iPhone or other smart phone and can't swap the battery, consider getting a charging case, or "juice pack."

"It's really important to conserve your phone's power. People don't realize that running apps can really drain a phone," Gikas said.

On an iPhone, double press the home button and it will show you apps that are running. Leave your finger on one of them until you see them quiver and delete them by hitting the minus sign in the upper left hand corner of the app.

On most Android phones, to see the apps that are running, hit the recent apps button. Then merely swipe them to the left and that should shut them down.

Also lower the brightness of the screen and turn off Wi-Fi connections until you need them. These key moves before and during a storm can go a long way to keeping you connected.

You may also want to keep a battery-operated phone charger on hand, and plenty of batteries. Or you can try a hand-cranked charger. It will take some effort, but will help keep you powered up.

Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.

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