Losing phone service is one of the frustrations we face in the aftermath of hurricanes.
This storm season BellSouth is taking some key steps to keep us talking longer through a storm, and you can take key steps too.
Last hurricane season left many of us disconnected. Some phone service unavailable for days, even longer. Many times it was because people didn't listen to BellSouth's most important preparation tip.
Marta Casas-Celaya of BellSouth says, "Number one, prepare yourself with a hurricane phone. A hurricane phone is nothing more than, than your old landline phone."
That's right, the old style phone you used to talk on with a cord connecting to the handset that plugs directly into the wall. During and after a storm, these will last longer than the portable phones most people now use.
Casas-Celaya says don’t count on your cordless phones.
"If you have one of the portable phones that have a base, the base is electrical and in the event of a power outage it's not going to work."
But the old style phones draw power from BellSouth's wire line network running into your home.
"The wire line network originates with central offices where we have mega generators that are continuously being powered we will take care of refueling those and if there is an outage if will be seamless to the customer."
Bellsouth says many people thought they didn’t have phone service last year after hurricanes, but actually did; their cordless phones were powerless to access it.
Two more things you can do are use the phone only when absolutely necessary and keep calls as short as possible to avoid draining power.
“There is a finite amount of time that you are going to be able to use that phone and please be considerate both for yourself and your neighbors to try and make that last as long as possible."
The backup battery power is limited. You are working off of a remote terminal.
Those remote terminals, the tan or green boxes on the corners of your block, are where calls are routed through. Bellsouth is strengthening them with more generator power.
“We have equipped them with backup electrical power, so they will function anywhere form eight to 10 hours depending upon use after an electrical commercial outage they will continue to function. Now when that power is depleted in the remote terminal we will be going out there. We will be attaching either generators or just replenishing the battery backup power to that."
Bellsouth says it’s also expanding generator power to remote terminals linked to critical services. They are also raising some key equipment off the ground in coastal areas like the keys to avoid damage by rising water.
One more thing you can do: before you dig into the ground to remove damaged trees or fences, contact the Florida One Hotline to see if there is a phone line buried there.
“The majority of the outages that we have post hurricane are because people are cutting the cables."
BellSouth says it will restore service first in areas where the most people can be serviced the quickest.