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June 25, 2015

How to prepare for a disaster with your Lumia phone

Don’t be caught unprepared by a sudden disaster. Follow these tips to plan for an emergency and get the most out of your smartphone.


With Atlantic hurricane season running from June through November and monsoon season in India lasting from June through September, there’s no better time to prepare for a disaster.

No matter whether it’s a hurricane, tornado, flood, storm, wildfire, earthquake, or major accident, a loss of power can make communicating with loved ones difficult or even impossible. But with some advance preparation, you can empower yourself to be ready for disaster when it strikes.

Before a disaster

  • Compile a list of emergency numbers in your cell phone.
  • Prepare a family contact sheet. Include at least one out-of-town contact that may be better able to reach family members in an emergency.
  • As a backup, keep a copy of your emergency numbers and family contact sheet on OneDrive.
  • Program “In Case of Emergency” contacts into your Lumia so emergency personnel can contact those people for you if you’re unable to operate it. Let your emergency contacts know about your medical issues or special needs.
  • If you have call forwarding on your landline phone, forward those calls to your mobile phone number.
  • Subscribe to text-alert services from your local government (if available) to receive alerts in the event of a disaster. In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Emergency Management Agency have developed an emergency alert system to automatically send messages about imminent threats.
  • Keep a battery-powered portable charger (such as the 6000mAh-capacity Microsoft DC-21) in your emergency kit.
  • Install a free flashlight app (like Flashlight) on your Lumia. This app includes an S.O.S. mode for emergencies and a strobe light to help attract attention. Also have a real flashlight packed in your emergency kit to save on your phone’s battery.
  • Use an app such as Emergency Kit (free) to help store information on your blood type, allergies, and more. A personalized lock screen can display your emergency contacts and information to emergency personnel even if your Lumia is locked.

During a disaster

  • If you have a life-threatening emergency, call (do not text!) your country’s emergency contact number. For the number in your country, check here.
  • For non-emergency communications, use text messaging, email, or social media to communicate with family and loved ones. Voice calls on your cell phone are more prone to tie up mobile networks.
  • If your phone and carrier allow the option, switch to 2G from 4G for a better chance of making calls.
  • Keep calls brief. Try to convey only vital information to family and emergency personnel.
  • If you can’t complete a call, wait 10 seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion.
  • Conserve your cell phone battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, and closing all unnecessary apps.
  • Use your car to recharge your phone if it loses power. Make sure it’s in a safe, well-ventilated place first.
  • Limit your cell phone use to essential communications. Even if you have plenty of battery life, streaming videos, playing video games, and downloading music can add to network congestion.
  • Turn off Bluetooth. It can drain your battery quickly.
  • Switch from cellular to Wifi service if secure Wifi is available.
  • If your property has suffered damage, you can photograph it for insurance purposes using your Lumia camera.
  • Turn your cell phone off when not in use to conserve battery life.
  • Switch the vibration function off. Vibrate mode uses more power than a ring tone does.

For more tips on disaster preparedness, check out the website of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the U.S. or the disaster management authority for your country.

Do you have more tips on how to use your Lumia to survive a disaster? Tell us about them in the comments below.