How to use your cell phone in severe weather

Land lines might prove to be valuable during severe winter weather.

In cases where electricity goes out, corded, landline phones not dependent on electricity could prove to be the only form of communication.

AT& T is providing winter storm tips that include keeping your cell phone charged and using text messages more than calls because texts will go through faster and they use fewer network resources.

Here is a list of important communications tips:

Have a family communications plan in place. Designate someone out of the area as a central contact, and make certain that all family members know whom to contact if they become separated. Most important, practice your emergency plan in advance.

Use text messaging. During an emergency situation, text messages will often go through quicker than voice calls because they require less network resources. All of AT&T TMs wireless devices are text messaging capable.

Take advantage of weather text-alert programs. AT&T participates in a number of text alert school closing notification programs. The company TMs customers should check their local news websites to see if weather related text alert programs are available in their area.

Make sure you have a Winter Storm Phone. It is a good idea to have a wireless phone on hand and at least one corded (landline) telephone that is not dependent on electricity in case of a power outage. Cordless telephones usually have receivers that require electricity, so they won TMt work if you lose your power.

Keep non-emergency calls to a minimum. If there is severe weather, chances are many people will be attempting to place calls to loved ones, friends and business associates.

Program all of your emergency contact numbers and e-mail addresses into your mobile phone. Numbers should include the police department, fire station and hospital, as well as your family members.

Keep your wireless phone TMs battery charged at all times. Have an alternative plan to recharge your battery in case of a power outage, such as charging your wireless device by using a car charger or having extra charged mobile phone batteries or disposable mobile phone batteries on hand.

Keep your wireless phone dry. The biggest threat to your device during a storm is water, so keep your equipment safe from the elements by storing it in a baggie or some other type of protective covering.

Track the storm and access weather information on your wireless device. Many homes lose power during severe weather. If you have a wireless device that provides access to the Internet, you can watch weather reports and get regular updates on your phone.

Take advantage of location- based mapping technology. Services such as AT&T Navigator and AT&T FamilyMap can help you avoid traffic congestion from downed trees or power lines, as well as track a family member TMs wireless device in case you get separated.

Use your camera phone, take photos " even video clips " of damaged property for your insurance company from your device.