Consumer Reports: Emergency Communication

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Since Sept. 11, people are more concerned than ever with being able to reach family in an emergency. Consumer Reports says text messaging could be your best option.

You may have seen this commercial showing people sending written messages on their phones.

Ads like this are targeting teens, but short-messaging service could play an important role in an emergency situation, according to Consumer Reports' David Heim.

"Well, what we learned on September 11th is that phone circuits can jam up. But
short-messaging service, or text messaging, may get through even when a voice call can't."

That's because the short messages of 25 words or less — tapped out on your phone's keypad — take up less of the cellular transmission spectrum. But, though better than a phone call, even a text message isn't sure thing.

"There can be system glitches, and equipment can break down, resulting in a dropped message."

Consumer Reports has some tips for sending crucial text messages. First, practice sending messages from your phone. Some phone menus can be confusing. Also, text message to someone with the same carrier as you — you may have a better chance of getting through. Finally, ask for a return confirmation message so you know yours was received.

So, while commercials show a lighter side, Consumer Reports says text messaging could come in handy in a serious situation.

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