The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
A recent 24-hour power outage at my home brought the subject of emergency preparedness to mind. Power, telephone, cable television, and FIOS fiber optic lines all had been ripped off the telephone poles by falling trees in several different locations around town during a major wind storm. Not only was the power off but all the telephones in my neighborhood were dead, the cable television was also dead, and Internet connectivity by cable or FIOS fiber optic also was inoperative. Despite these handicaps, I was able to maintain telephone communications and Internet connectivity all the time. While this outage only lasted about 24 hours, I could have maintained the same communications for a week or more without power.
I now lead a “snowbird” life, spending winters in sunny Florida and summers up north when the weather is agreeable. Actually, traveling with the sun makes me even more aware of power outages. In fact, the number of hurricanes is increasing these days and each passing hurricane causes power outages of a few hours up to perhaps a few weeks. In other areas of the county, fires, tornadoes, floods, and more cause power outages lasting hours or even weeks. You and your family may not be able to cook food, live without heat or air conditioning, and without the capability of communicating (when the telephone lines are down). This is not only inconvenient; it can be life-threatening.
I would suggest everyone should think of their own preparedness for power outages, whether caused by weather, automobiles running into telephone poles, or any other calamities.
It is easy to find solutions for emergency lighting, flashlights, and even portable camping stoves to cook canned food. However, making sure your high-tech devices are ready requires a bit of planning, too.
During the most recent power outage in my neighborhood, the standard wired telephones supplied by the local telephone company all were dead simply because fallen trees and telephone poles ripped the wires off the poles. However, cellular service continued to work perfectly.
My experience over many years of winter storms, downed telephone and power lines, two tornadoes, and a few hurricanes have shown that cellular telephone service is always more reliable than standard wired telephone service provided by the local telephone company. Cell towers normally have emergency diesel generators that start automatically when commercial power fails. The same generators usually have enough fuel to keep them running for several days. The towers are also interconnected by microwave or other connections that do not rely on wires that get disconnected by falling tree limbs, floods, or other hazards that can kill standard telephone service. In contrast, old-fashioned telephones have fragile wires strung on poles that are easily damaged by wind and falling trees or tree limbs. Underground utility wires work much better, but even the underground wires eventually go above ground someplace.
Cellular telephones have proven to be reliable for years. While I have only been using cellular data service for a few years, the data service has been equally reliable during that time.
I did read that some cell tower generators ran out of fuel after several days following Hurricane Katrina. The fuel delivery trucks were not able to get through the flood waters for a week or more. Of course, traditional telephone lines had been inoperative during the entire time, even the first few days when cell phones were still working perfectly. In all cases, the cell phones still worked better and longer than traditional telephones, even if they were not perfect.
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