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Verizon Outage Today and Other Communication Failures: How Would You Reach Your Kids In an Emergency?

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Sometimes it seems like the more high-tech life gets, the more difficult it becomes

Subscribers to Verizon Wireless in Virginia and North Carolina experienced cell phone outages earlier this afternoon, although service was restored at 3:50 p.m. All’s well that ends well.

Nothing tragic happened during the outage, or at least that has been reported, but whenever I hear about communication breakdowns of any kind, I always wonder how it affects parents and children. On Sept. 11, 2001, I was living in New York City and both of my parents and my brother-in-law were also in Manhattan that day. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, we couldn’t get in touch with each other because all phones — land and cell lines — were down. The feeling of panic of not knowing where everyone was, and that everyone was OK, is one that I’ll never forget.

As news broke this morning about the horrific bombing at the airport in Moscow, I thought again about families missing loved ones and potentially not being able to get in touch with them due to possible communication failures amidst the chaos. My heart bled for all who suffered in the bombing, and for those who had to wait around, not knowing.

As we become increasingly dependent on technology — smartphones, iPads, computers, GPS systems, to name a few — what do we do when the lines of communication break down, literally? After 9/11 my family came up with a plan that included an actual meeting place in the event of another terrorist attack, assuming we wouldn’t be able to get in touch again.

But now that I’m a mother, I think about my 2-year-old, who will be starting preschool in a few months. While the school building is only blocks from where we live, and even closer to where my husband works, I worry sometimes about emergencies, and what would happen if I weren’t able to get in touch with the school (or they with me). While I know, rationally, that people survived and communicated before cell phones and computers, I worry that we’re so trained to rely on them that the moments it would take to come up with a Plan B or C would be potentially paralyzing and harmful. I’m sure they make an app for the problem, and that’s part of the problem.

Does your family have a contingency plan for dealing in the event of an emergency and communication outage?

Image: Meredith Carroll

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