Tips & Apps For Contacting Loved Ones During An Emergency


(The regularly scheduled Beacon Bulletin was bumped today for this piece.  Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Orlando who were brutally cut down by a self-radicalized Islamic extremist yesterday.  This is not a political commentary, just reality.)

In case of an emergency, our first instinct is to contact our loved ones.  We’re either trying to locate them or let them we are okay or both.  Should an event that separates you from your loved ones occur, below are suggestions for establishing contact.  (We’re not going to repeat the obvious suggestions such as limit non-emergency calls,  keeping your cell charged and tuning to broadcast news for alert updates.)

  1. For non-emergency calls, try text messaging, also known as short messaging service (SMS) when using your wireless phone. In many cases text messages will go through when your call may not. It will also help free up more “space” for emergency communications on the telephone network;
  2. If possible try a variety of communications services if you are unsuccessful in getting through with one. For example, if you are unsuccessful in getting through on your wireless phone, try a messaging capability like text messaging or email. Alternatively, try a landline phone if one is available. This will help spread the communications demand over multiple networks and should reduce overall congestion;
  3. Wait 10 seconds before redialing a call. On many wireless handsets, to re-dial a number, you simply push “send” after you’ve ended a call to redial the previous number. If you do this too quickly, the data from the handset to the cell sites do not have enough time to clear before you’ve resent the same data. This contributes to a clogged network;
  4. If in your vehicle, try to place calls while your vehicle is stationary;
  5. Have a family communications plan in place. Designate someone out of the area as a central contact, and make certain all family members know who to contact if they become separated;
  6. If you have Call Forwarding on your home number, forward your home number to your wireless number in the event of an evacuation. That way you will get incoming calls from your landline phone;
  7. After an event such as a storm has passed, if you lose power in your home, try using your car to charge cell phones or listen to news alerts on the car radio. But be careful – don’t try to reach your car if it is not safe to do so, and remain vigilant about carbon monoxide emissions from your car if it is a closed space, such as a garage.

If you are able to connect, below are two emergency contact apps (one for personal sue; the other, corporate) that hold the best record of success thus far during emergencies and at work (lone worker, travel security) and at school (active shooter):

For Personal Situations:  (From Facebook)  Safety Check

Just hours after coordinated attacks in Paris left at least 127 people dead and injured more than 350, Facebook activated its Safety Check tool. The tool, which automatically sends users in the affected area a prompt asking if they’re safe, notifies Facebook friends when a user clicks “Yes, let my friends know.”

Since its official launch in October 2014, Safety Check has been activated only a handful of times, including after the recent earthquakes in Afghanistan, Chile and Nepal. More than 4 million people used the tool to mark themselves safe following the Paris attacks. This was the first time the program was used outside of a natural disaster.

How It Works:   When a user clicks “Yes, let my friends know,” the tool then notifies their Facebook friends.

Facebook is letting users in Paris post safety status messages after officials said more than 100 people were killed during a series of attacks Friday.Facebook; screenshot by CNET

Facebook determines location based on what users have listed in their profile, the city where they’re using the Internet, and, if they’re using the social network’s Nearby Friends feature, their most recent location. If Safety Check has gotten the location wrong, users can mark that they’re somewhere else.


At Work or School: Guardly

Whether you’re traveling overseas on business, working remotely, in a parking garage with poor cellular coverage or sitting at your desk, Guardly Mobile alerts and connects you with your organization’s security operations instantly.

emergency reporting

emergency alert indoors

Simply launching Guardly Mobile activates its location detection capabilities — making it the first button you should press.

With its proprietary indoor positioning and GPS locating capabilities, emergency alerts from Guardly Mobile ensure that security operators can locate you indoors within seconds — without the need to speak or type one additional word.

We end this week’s Bulletin with a heavy heart and hope you never need to use these apps but if you do, remember that help and information is just a call or click away.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.


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