Phone Communications: Landlines

At one time or another, all of us have probably experienced difficulties with landlines or mobiles, whether signal strength, crackling on the line, a wrong connection, all sorts of things.

If an emergency is bad enough, the phone network – landline, mobile or both – might go down temporarily, probably locally, but maybe nationally.

So in this series of articles, here are as many as possible of the ways that I’ve found out about, to help us all keep the phone wires humming happily, for as long as possible. And hopefully forever.

Landline

Many people are on the point of getting rid of their landlines, if they don’t need it for their internet access. I recommend against getting rid of it, if possible. This is because of what happens in a power cut: the old fashioned, corded phones will still work, because they draw their power directly from the telephone line. A cordless phone won’t, because the base station needs to be powered up the whole time, but corded will.

It’s a good idea to keep the same sort of phone in your car (one that draws power from the telephone lines themselves); if communications were to go down for some unforeseen reason, you might be able to find a way to use it, via a jack point, for instance in a public building.

As things stand right now, you can check the status of phone line service nationally if you can get online, at this link: http://bt.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/37875/kw/public%20boxes/c/345,353/session/L3RpbWUvMTM0ODQ3OTIyOC9zaWQvLU8xKkYxN2w%3D Though quite what you do if you find there is a fault in the area you want to call, well … at least you know not to keep phoning, I suppose, and find another way to contact them.

Public Phone Network

There’s a good chance that public phones would still work when mobile phone networks have been shut down, and even when home landlines have been interrupted. There’s some discussion about the level of priority they’d be given, and the answer varies from “low level” to “none at all”! But its a cheap form of safeguarding one potential method of communication, so why not use it?

To do so, of course, you’d need to know the numbers of public call boxes nearby to your family and friends, and have a schedule set up for contacting one another – relying on the kindness of strangers during the level of emergency that would see the need for this form of contact is uncertain, at best. You might be lucky, but if you set up this method of contact as an insurance, why leave that last step to luck?

So, my recommendation is that you discuss it amongst yourselves, and take a note of the numbers of at least two public call boxes near to you, and near to the person or people you want to contact. To connect with people this way will be time-consuming, there’s no doubt of it, so its best to limit the number you contact to two or three. Use a telephone tree system if there’s more of you.

In point form, this is as follows:

  • discuss this method of contact with the people you want to use it for.
  • all of you take note of the numbers of a couple of public call boxes near to you, and give that information to all the others in the group.
  • make sure you all write it down on pen and paper. Don’t rely on electronic storage, and make sure the rest of your group don’t – it might be an electronic malfunction that means you need to contact one another, and then the numbers won’t be available to you.
  • sort out days and times for each contact. For instance: ‘A’ will phone ‘B’ on Tuesday and Friday at 10am and 5pm; each should be at the phone for 5 minutes beforehand, and 10 minutes after. ‘B’ will phone ‘C’ Wednesday and Friday at 11am and 8pm; each should be at the phone for 5 minutes beforehand, and 10 minutes after. And so on …
  • after you’ve set the system up, keep an eye on your chosen phone boxes: are they still in working order? Vandalised or the phones themselves removed by the authorities? Have they become Card Only?
  • if one of your little group moves, make sure you all update the phone box numbers involved.
  • if you use a telephone tree, make sure you all know what to do if one of the members doesn’t respond for a certain number of calls.
  • and finally, make sure you have enough change, not just for one phone call, but a whole series, for your particular phones. Those advertised on the BT website are described using a 10p coin as an example, but the phones can be programmed for differing capabilities. Always check. Thats the final step, and maybe the easiest to overlook; to go through all the work of setting this up, and then not having enough change would be a real shame, and could have very serious consequences. Be sure to keep enough change by you at all times, in a tin at the back of the food cupboard if necessary.

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