Tip of the Month: Text First, Talk Second

September 10, 2010

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. See article.

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 uvaoep@virginia.edu.