Preparing for Irma, Reflecting on Harvey

by Hfbtech

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Tips to Prepare for Irma | When to Call 911 | Text-to-911

RapidSOS Haven & SOS Beacon apps | Harvey Reflections

Tips to Prepare for Irma

With Hurricane Irma now fastly approaching the coast of Florida, we encourage everyone to follow FEMA to keep up to date on the status of Irma and learn how to create a disaster kit for you and your family. You can also track the storm via Google Crisis Map.

For those affected by Harvey: Waze has made Waze Carpool live and free in affected areas of Texas and Louisiana to help citizens get back to their normal routines.  

When to Call 911

As we saw with Hurricane Harvey, there is likely to be an increase in 9-1-1 calls during Hurricane Irma. Remember to only call 9-1-1 during a true emergency. Here are a couple other numbers to note in case of emergency:

  • Florida Emergency Information Line (24/7): 1-800-342-3557
  • Text the word “shelter” and your zip code to 4-F-E-M-A (4-3-3-6-2) in order to find a closeby hurricane shelter

Note: Texting FEMA is not a substitute for calling 9-1-1.


Due to network limitations and limited battery power, Text-to-911 can sometimes be a good alternative to calling 9-1-1. See if your local 9-1-1 Center accepts text messages at this link.

RapidSOS Haven & Beacon Apps

We are offering three years of free access to the RapidSOS Haven app to help citizens in affected areas stay connected to loved ones and send precise location information to 9-1-1 in case of emergency. You can sign up here  please feel free to share this link with your community. If there are cellular outages, the Haven app is a good way to reach 9-1-1 and transmit GPS location over WiFi.

Note: The Haven app cannot connect you to 9-1-1 if you have zero connectivity (WiFi or cellular). Users of the SOS Beacon app should note that SOS Beacon is not active in Florida at this time.

Reflecting on Harvey

“Sometimes there were tears, tears in the break room, and that sort of thing. But by the time we got back on the phones, it was work as usual.”

– Houston County Sheriff’s Office Communication Officer Charles Jackson (see full article)

Taking a step back to reflect on the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, it is extraordinary how the Public Safety Community was able to take thousands of 9-1-1 calls, dispatch appropriate help, and rescue thousands of citizens in such a short period of time and with limited resources. We cannot thank the first responders enough for rushing into harm’s way to save and protect civilians and for their commitment and dedication to saving lives. Our thoughts are with all those affected by the storm.

RapidSOS is dedicated to assisting Public Safety and the community at large however we can. We would like to recognize the heroic feat of 9-1-1 call takers, dispatchers, and first responders despite the enormous challenges they faced in responding to thousands of calls during Hurricane Harvey. Please join us in donating to Team 911 to help 9-1-1 professionals effected by the storm.