Once again the hearts of America skip a few beats as we learn of the loss of life, our sense of security and freedoms we take for granted every day.
After the nation has taken a collective gasp at the news, we hear and see pictures of the heroic acts and response by trained and untrained citizens. These actions truly saved lives. Few know how we would react in a similar situation, but we all hope we would be one of the ones that rush to help.
One thing that we can do right now, where we are and as just plain folks is to become educated on how to create a safer world for those around us and how to, at a minimum, not add to the chaos.
Here are some suggestions.
TIPS FOR TECHNOLOGY USE DURING A CRISIS
The flowing are tips when making phone calls and using a cellular phone during or after a disaster.
Keep all phone calls brief. If you need to use a phone, try to convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family.
If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cell phone, wait 10 seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion.
Conserve your cell phone battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, placing your phone in airplane mode and closing apps that you are not using that draw power, unless you need to use the phone.
If you lose power, you can charge your cell phone in your car. Just be sure that your car is in a well-ventilated place (remove it from the garage) and do not go to your car until any danger has passed. You can also listen to your car radio for important news alerts.
If you do not have a hands-free device in your car, stop driving or pull to the side of the road before making a call. DO NOT text on a cell phone, talk or "tweet" without a hands-free device while driving.
Immediately following a disaster, resist using your mobile device to watch streaming videos, download music or videos or play video games, all of which can add to network congestion. Limiting use of these services can help potentially life-saving calls get through to 9-1-1.
For non-emergency communications, use text messaging, emails or social media instead of making voice calls on your cell phone to avoid tying up voice networks. Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion.
You can also use social media to post your status to let family and friends know you are OK. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you can use resources such as American Red Cross' Safe and Well Program.
Practicing the above tips will be extremely helpful to everyone if the majority of us practice them.
Another thing we can do, without doing anything but practicing a little situational awareness, is to follow Homeland Security's motto of "See Something, Say Something."
We know that someone in Boston noticed the bags that contained the bombs sitting there unattended. And there was no shortage of officials to point this out to.
Imagine how this terrorist attack would have unfolded if someone had "Seen Something, Said Something."
You are the person that can make a difference. Empower yourself and those around you to take action when you encounter something like this. Law enforcement would much rather be called and not needed than not called and a tragedy occurs. People pick up the phone every day and call to report barking dogs, loud neighbors, etc. Please call. It will only take a minute.