Friday, May 10, 2019

Hurricane Preparedness Week: A Time to Raise Awareness


It is Hurricane Preparedness Week- a time to raise awareness regarding the dangers that come with hurricanes and a time to practice preparedness for natural disasters. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has also issued a proclamation to help bring awareness to the destructive force that hurricanes bring to communities and businesses.

As many are aware from destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Texas coastline and the inland communities are at much more of a risk during the months of June through November. Hurricanes are incredibly powerful forces of nature that cause mass destruction and damage to homes, businesses and road structures. They also pose a threat to lives and property.

“At this time, I encourage all Texans to remain mindful of the dangers presented by hurricanes, to stay informed about current threats, and to take steps toward preparedness. Together, we are ready!” stated Governor Abbott.

What You Can Do to Be Prepared

Before hurricane season starts, now is the time to prepare yourself for potential disasters by first signing up for emergency alerts on you phone. Next, it is also important to build an emergency evacuation plan and an emergency kit. You can find great resources for creating a plan and building a kit at https://www.ready.gov/. There you will find links to how to be informed and how to plan ahead so your family can ensure safety when the time comes.

Other items that are important to investigate when it comes to be prepared is checking your insurance coverage, documenting your property and assets, and developing a plan to keep in touch with your loved ones. No one wants to go through the destruction a hurricane can cause, but if you can better prepare yourself for the massive destruction it can bring, you will ultimately provide more safety and security to you and your loved ones. If you ever find yourself in an emergency caused by a natural disaster and need help, please call 9-1-1. In some areas, you can also text 9-1-1 if you are unable to call.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

May Marks Mental Health Awareness Month


We tend to be quick to go to the doctor if we have a cold or pain in our body. But when it comes to our mental health, many of us do not take care of it like we should. Remember- your health matters- including mental health! National Mental Health Month raises awareness about various mental health illnesses and related issues.

Luckily, as time evolves, so has the mindset of many and the stigma associated with mental health has gone down. There has been a wave of acceptance towards these issues and more support is being provided to those who suffer from them. Did you know 1 in 5 people will be affected by mental illness in this country?

The campaign shared this month is the Why Care? campaign. This provides for an opportunity to share the importance of taking care of our mental health. It is also a time to support those who live with a mental illness every day and a time to educate how many people are affected by mental illness from families, caregivers and loved ones. By caring about mental illness and working to get help for those with mental health issues, we have the power to make a life-changing impact.

WhyCare?
Care is a 4-letter word, but a powerful way to change lives for those dealing with mental health issues. People feel loved when someone cares. People also feel heard when someone cares. And people recover when someone cares. You can participate by sharing your personal stories on social media using the hashtag #WhyCare. You can also look for awareness events to participate in.
May 6th marks National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day and is a day to focus on youth mental health. For more information on this please visit https://www.samhsa.gov/childrens-awareness-day. On that day you can also participate in a webcast on Suicide Prevention: Strategies That Work. The event will focus on how suicide impacts children, youth, adults, families, and communities.

Then on May 20th you can view a webinar on Older Mental Health Awareness Day 2019 which focuses on the mental health and substance use of seniors.
Each year, more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide. It is important we take notice and care for the people in our lives. Check up on your friends and family. If you or a loved one is in crises or experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If anyone is in any immediate danger, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1 for help.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

It’s 9-1-1 Public Education Month and a Celebration of National Telecommunicator Week 2019


9-1-1 Education Month in April serves as an important time for 9-1-1 educators to provide outreach to communities. This helps ensure they are aware of the different ways to contact 9-1-1 in an emergency as well as how and when to call. The second full week in April also serves as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (April 14-20, 2019). This week recognizes telecommunicators and dispatchers who dedicate their lives to serving the public and deserve recognition for their hard work.

For those of you who do not know, telecommunicators, also known as call-takers or dispatchers, are individuals who work for an emergency service provider (usually 9-1-1) and are qualified to answer incoming emergency telephone calls and then provide for the appropriate emergency response. They answer the tough 9-1-1 calls 24/7 to help get the public the emergency services they need in a timely manner.  

In 1991, Congress recognized telecommunicator’s efforts and created a special week distinguishing who they are and the importance they play in our society. In 2008, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to increase national awareness about the importance and appropriate use of 9-1-1 and created a month dedicated to 9-1-1 education. With this, Congress encouraged public awareness events, advertising campaigns, outreach activities and training/education for parents and teachers.

Below you will find some important topics to educate on this month:

Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t: Many agencies across the country have started implementing text-to-911 services. While more and more entities are incorporating text to 9-1-1, there is still only a small percentage of the country that has it available. If you see a sign or information in your region promoting that you can text to 9-1-1, then you can guarantee it is available. But if you do not, then please assume you can’t text to 9-1-1 and please call if you need help. If you do text to 9-1-1 and it is NOT available in the area, you will receive a bounce back message instructing you to please call 9-1-1 for help.  

Know Your Location: Most people have smart phones these days. And on these smart phones there are many apps that can find our location information. Because of that, it doesn’t seem far-fetched to think that if we have GPS in our phone then 9-1-1 should be able to find us when we call. This is actually not the case. When you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone/smart phone, dispatchers are only able to see approximately where you are and not specifically where you are located. Remember to always be attentive and know your location. Look for mile markers, landmarks, cross streets and addresses on buildings. This information could potentially save your life or another life!

Kari’s Law: A fairly new law called Kari’s Law affects business with multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) so it is important that they are in compliance. This law has to do with providing direct access to 9-1-1 from a MLTS without having to dial an additional digit. Business service users with MLTS phones must have their phones set to be able to dial 9-1-1 directly without dialing an extra digit first. For more info on Kari’s Law visit www.texas911.org/karislaw. Recently, there was a bill at the federal level to provide direct access to 9-1-1 that passed. You can learn more about the federal law here.

Stay Calm, Don’t Hang Up: Whenever someone calls 9-1-1, it is important for them to stay calm and stay on the phone until emergency services arrive or the 9-1-1 call-taker tells them it is okay to hang up. Staying calm helps the dispatcher get answers to the questions they need to help the caller get emergency services quickly. Staying on the phone until emergency services arrive ensures the person who called has safety or can share information the emergency responder might need to relay to emergency services personnel.

Please remember that 9-1-1 is for emergency use only and should never be abused or used for fun. It not only helps save lives, but is an important tool in helping our society to get the aid they need. For more information on 9-1-1 education, please visit www.csec.texas.gov. You can also find resourceful information on 9-1-1 in this PDF print off provided by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).

P.S. Looking for Cell Phone Sally public education materials to help with your program or to purchase for sharing at community events? Visit www.my911shop.com. Don't see what you need? Email them and they can research it and potentially still purchase it for you! 

Friday, March 15, 2019

What You Need to Know About Texting to 9-1-1


In many places throughout the United States, text-to-911 services have been implemented. It is important for citizens to know how text-to-911 works and when texting is a better option than calling 9-1-1 in an emergency.

What is Text-to-911?
Text-to-911 allows a wireless phone user to send a text to 9-1-1 call-takers for help in an emergency. To text 9-1-1, simply enter 911 into the recipient field, type the message, and press send. If text-to-911 is not available in the area in which the text is being sent, the wireless phone user attempting to text 9-1-1 will receive a bounceback message requesting that they please call 9-1-1 for help.

When should you Text-to-911?
Texting 9-1-1 is important during an emergency when the person in need is unable to make a regular voice call to 9-1-1 for help. For example, texting is a great resource if someone is deaf or hard of hearing. It is also an important tool for those whose safety would be compromised if they were to speak out loud. This could include domestic violence incidents, home break-in or invasion, and/or even school shootings.

Do’s and Don’ts of Text-to-911
Text-to-911 is a new resource to reach 9-1-1 for an emergency and has already helped many people. Stories in the news show those utilizing texting 9-1-1 have been saved from kidnappings, natural disasters, and preventing a suicide

Here are the do’s and don’ts of texting 9-1-1 in an emergency:
  •   Always Know Your Location: When calling or texting from a cell phone, 9-1-1 call-takers do not know the exact location of the call. That is why it is always so important to be aware of surroundings. If an exact address cannot be provided, try and share information such as cross streets, mile-markers and landmarks.
  • Use simple language: Do not use abbreviations, slang or emojis when texting 9-1-1
  • Texting to 9-1-1 may not be available with all phone carriers. If this is the case, a bounceback message will show up stating to call 9-1-1 for help.
  • Delays are possible! Text messages are not always received in a timely fashion or in order so if there is a choice of calling or texting 9-1-1, please choose to call 9-1-1 for help.
  • Please Remember to NOT Text and Drive!


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Marks Human Trafficking Month


Even though we have come a long way in this world, we still are dealing with the horrible crimes that surround human trafficking. That is why January marks Human Trafficking Month and is a reminder that we are still fighting to get rid of these crimes from occurring and ultimately protecting all citizens from this happening to them.

What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is considered modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. People that become victims of human traffic are all genders, ages, races, countries, socioeconomic statuses and more- basically it can happen to anyone in a vulnerable situation such as people who might be homeless or young.
Human trafficking includes different types such as sex trafficking, forced labor and domestic servitude. With sex trafficking, victims can be forced, threatened, and manipulated by promises of love or affection to engage in sex acts for money. If a person is under the age of 18 and involved in a commercial sex act, then they are also a victim of human trafficking.

What Can You Do to Help?
Human trafficking is sadly everywhere and it’s important that communities come together to stop it. The Department of Homeland Security has a campaign called the Blue Campaign. It provides several opportunities for individuals and organizations to raise awareness about this serious issue.
They have posters, videos, and infographics you can utilize for free and download easily from their website to help raise awareness about human trafficking. They even have training, cards, pamphlets, and toolkits. On January 31st, you can participate in a Thunderclap, which is a way to raise your virtual voice about this important issue. You can find out more about that by visiting the Blue Campaign website.
Make sure you do your part to help stop these terrible crimes from occurring and spread the awareness message.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Some Important 2019 Resolutions from Cell Phone Sally


A New Year means a new chance to be more prepared and aware. When it comes to knowledge of emergency services, you can never be too prepared. That’s why Cell Phone Sally has put some tips together to start and continue your 2019 off on the right path!

Tips for a Successful Safe and Healthy 2019:

·      Always Know Your Location. The easiest way to do this is to be aware of your surroundings. Look for street names, landmarks and anything else that might help a 9-1-1 operator find where you are during an emergency. Practicing awareness is key!

·     Teach Kids for to dial 911 from a cell phone. Most children don’t not know how to dial 911 in case an emergency happens. Make sure to teach them to push the 911 numbers and then the green send button. Or most smart phones now also have a button on the main screen that says emergency and children can use this to dial 911 by pushing the green button after pushing the numbers 911.  

·       Be prepared for any emergency. Do you have an emergency plan in place for your family? If you don’t, now is the time to make a plan. It could be a matter of life or death. Visit www.ready.gov for all the ins and outs on disaster preparedness!

·       Be aware of unsafe products and recalls. Keep your family safe from potentially dangerous products. You can find out about unsafe products at this website: http://www.cpsc.gov/

·       Get Involved in Health and Wellness! It is important to keep your family healthy and a great website for ideas on staying fit is right here: http://health.discovery.com/

·       Know the number to Poison Control Services! Not sure if you can mix certain medications? Having an allergic reaction to something and not sure if you should go to the emergency room? Get bit by a spider and not sure if it is poisonous? All of these questions can get answered and more- fee of charge! So memorize this number and save it in your phone: 1-800-222-1222. Visit their website here for more info on poison control issues: http://www.poisoncontrol.org/

These are just a few tips to ensure your new year will be the best it can be! And as always, remember- if you are ever in an emergency and need help, please do not hesitate to dial 9-1-1!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Holiday Safety Tips from Cell Phone Sally


Holiday safety is important for many reasons- from keeping your family and belongings safe to also keeping your family injury-free throughout the holiday season.
Compiled below is a list of safety issues that will help put your mind at ease if implemented!
Holiday Shopping Safety
·         Keep all doors locked and windows closed when you are away from your vehicle. This will help prevent thieves from easy access to your valuables.
·         Never leave your car unoccupied while it is running. (And as a reminder, don’t leave children unattended in the car either for their safety too)
·         When leaving your vehicle, make sure all valuables are out of sight. If you have to leave something in your car, put it in the trunk.
·         Always remember to wear your seatbelt and practice cautious driving, especially if road conditions are bad.
·         Never drink and drive.
·         If you are involved in an accident, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1 for help.
Fire Safety
·         Keep candles, matches and lighters out of reach of children.
·         Never leave burning candles unattended.
·         Do not burn candles near flammable items.
·         Check and clean the chimney at least once a year.
Tree Safety
·         Decorate the tree with kids in mind; move ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top of the tree.
·         Always use a proper step ladder when putting decorations up high.
·         When putting up lights, make sure there are no exposed wires, loose connections or broken sockets.
·         “Angel hair” which is mad
e from spun glass, can irritate eyes and skin so always wear gloves to protect yourself from this.
Poison Safety
·         Decorating the home with festive plants around this time of year is very popular. But some of these plants have berries that can be poisonous if enough are ingested. The most common are mistletoe berries, holly berries, poinsettias, and Jerusalem cherry. Please keep these out of reach of children.
·         Did you know if you swallowed a button battery, it could potentially explode in your stomach? If swallowed and undetected, the batteries can do serious damage to the gastrointestinal system. Keep these batteries out of reach of children. And if a child does ingest it, call poison control at 1-800-222-1222 for immediate help. 
·         When playing and spraying artificial snow, make sure not to inhale the contents as it could irritate your lungs.
Travel Safety
·         Use a designate driver when driving to and from holiday parties. And again, never drink and drive.
·         When traveling, make sure everyone buckles up!
·         Keep maintenance on your vehicle and keep an emergency kit with you.
·         Make sure all your doors and windows are locked in the home before leaving.
·         If you have an alarm, make sure to turn it on while you are out of town.
·         Have a neighbor or family member watch your house, pick up your mail and even park in your driveway periodically, if possible.
·         Leave a radio or television on so the house sounds occupied.
·         Make sure expensive items or gifts in your home are not visible through windows or doors.
·         If you have a Christmas tree, make sure it is placed in water or wet sand to keep it fresh.
Whether you stay home this holiday season, or you travel to see loved ones, we hope you all have a safe and jolly time. And remember, if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation, please do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 for help.

To view some holiday cyber security safety tips, check out this video!