Simple & Easy – Emergency Preparedness
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LDS Emergency Resources – Communications pt1

LDS - Communications

Tonight, what we’re gonna be talking about is emergency communications. One of those things that, after you’ve taken care of the water and the food and the 72 hour kits and supplies and things like that – one of the things you need to do is to be able to communicate with those around you and those in the outside world.

Communication is as old as man is. We learned to speak and then we figured out how to carry that message farther than the human voice could transmit. So after we were able to transmit one’s voice, they turned to other things like drums and things like that so you can communicate over longer and longer distances. Fire rites – placing fires on the Great Wall of China – they would have fire towers that would be lighted and that would alert the armies if there were enemies and where they would go to.

And other things like some signals and using mirrors and things like that to illuminate, to be able to communicate over great distances, farther than the voice could travel or a man could easily run on foot. By the way, that’s where we got the marathons from – for those of you who do not know where that came from, it was a military runner that was communicated information from one part to another – just running through the city. And he ran with the information when they were under siege, delivered his message and then stopped.

So these things have been used in times past to communicate our feelings, desires, orders over distances. Most of us would have no idea if somebody put a fire on a tower – we’d probably be scared. I have no idea how to make smoke signals – I have a mirror and I can use that but that’s only good when the light is right and the sun is up.

Other inventions: Alexander Graham Bell had taken the telegraph information and turned it into telephone, allowing us to transmit voice over wires. And that has progressed over the years into glass rods or satellites. We’re able to communicate instantly around the world. Most of us carry around a little pocket radio that communicates with the world that can be done via radio waves, ground waves, satellites and everything else. You realize what’s that you’re carrying with you? It’s called a cellphone. We don’t think about it that way – but that’s what it is – it’s a mini-radio.

So we have the radios and stuff like that. We have other communication tools at our discretion. Modern tools that we all come to rely on day in, day out. Using satellites, the internet – all these technologies that we have: well, the question is how much can we rely on those technologies if a disaster or emergency should occur? Well, generally thinking, let’s start up with what often happens here in Southern California – that’s usually an earthquake – probably the one of the major disasters that goes on in this area.

Earthquake happens, power goes out. Power goes out – most of us have wireless phones in our house. Those wireless phones are plugged into the wall. No power, no wireless phone, no phone service. So unless you have a phone somewhere in the house like that that you’re utilizing on a regular basis or have as a backup stored in some place like that, you won’t be able to make a phone call from your own home.

Most of us have wireless phones. Having one of these around in an emergency, and right now you can buy them for nothing – 3,4 bucks you can get one! Most of the power that goes into the phone company is not on the electrical grid like the power or lights in our houses. Even if they are affected, most of the secondary buildings have huge banks of batteries and those batteries act up as backups.

The bad news is – what happens in an earthquake? Phones get knocked off the bedside stands, now they’re off the hook. The phone company can only handle about 10% of the phones being used at any particular time. Any more than that, they’ll unhook the deal. There’s nothing there – you can’t use that. And so, a lot of the times during earthquakes, the phones are knocked off. One of the things we talked in the seminar is to put the phone right back on. Cause as soon as the phone is off the hook, even though it’s not making a call anywhere, it’s tying up the line and not allowing your or anyone else to make the phone calls.

What’s the other thing that happens during an earthquake? I don’t know if this happens to you, but if you have relatives out of the state and it happens at about 3 o’clock in the morning, it’s 6 AM, 7 AM there – they’re waking up for the day, news comes on “Big earthquake in California – it’s happened in Glendale” – big earthquake, a 3.2 – that isn’t even worth getting out of bed for. But my mother-in-law, immediately calls “I heard on the news you had an earthquake!” If this happened 5 miles from me and it was not a level 5, I don’t call – nothing happened. And so these things tie up the phone lines. So you are probably not going to use the phone during an emergency.

Then you say “Ha ha! I’ve got a cellphone! Cellphones are not attached to any particular landline! They’re not powered by the power that powers my lights!” Au contraire! Most of them are. Most of the phone companies now are trying to have a battery backup for their cells, but they are powered, most of them, by the power that power our lights. So in most instances, if the power goes out, so will your cellphone.

Now, if the power doesn’t go out, there are some cellphone companies that use – the cellphone signals from your cellphone will go into a tower somewhere. That tower that gets that signal, puts it into another phone line and that’s how it goes. Well, if it’s tied up with all of those, then this ain’t gonna work much either. Some of them don’t rely on ground signal cables – they send the signal, if you notice the cell site, you’ll see a little microwave thing on it – they’ll send the information via microwave to the central locations. The problem is that during earthquakes, the towers go down and those little microwaves don’t light up anymore and so it makes it difficult to send cell signals out.

About 18 months ago, January of ’07, we were graced by one of the victims of Katrina, who was in this city. He’s a state president and he spoke to us and he said it was really kind of interesting that there was only one cell site that was still up in the area. And every morning, it would be just surrounded with people trying to get one of their phone calls. I don’t know if you know anything about cellular service, but the reason it’s called cellular service is because it takes the 300 different channels and brings them up in different cells. And so, each cell divides the signals in 3 different directions. And so that only means like 120 signals in one directions and in order for it to go from here to there and there to here, that only means 75 phone calls at any one direction.

So if you have 100 people all calling together, it ain’t gonna work. So what do you in an emergency? How can you make this work? Well, if you don’t know how to text message, learn! Because text messaging works on the same system but in a completely different way than a normal cellular service works.


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