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Tip of the Month

Text First, Talk Second

September 11, 2010 — Texting in a classroom or work environment may be considered disorderly, but if you can't make a phone call and are in danger, need assistance, or need to let someone know you are OK, texting can be your best bet.

Text messages use a system that is different than the wireless or land-line connections and is faster than a call. It also uses a fraction of the bandwidth; 800 people can send a text message in the bandwidth used by just one phone call.

In the event of an emergency, set up a texting plan with your friends and family. Here's what you can do:

  • Get the word out. Let your family, friends and co-workers know that if a natural or man-made disaster happens, the best way to find out if you are OK is to contact you via text message.
  • Decide on some key messages. Texting these four simple letters, "I M OK" (translation: I am OK), takes less than two seconds.
  •  Make sure everyone knows how to use the text messaging function on their mobile phone and if they don't, teach them.


Finally, try one of the following texting activities:

Drill A – Family/friend/emergency contact: Send, receive and confirm text message with family member or friend.

  • Individual sends a text message “R U OK” to a family member or friend
  •  Family member/friend responds with “I M OK”

Drill B – Manager to employees: Send, receive and confirm text messages with employees.

  • Manager sends text message to employees announcing a drill, e.g., "Work texting drill. R U OK"
  • Employee responds with "{First initial. last name} OK" text back to manager.

For information, go to The Safe America Foundation or contact the Office of Emergency Preparedness at 434-982-0565 or


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