Tips from a Ham Radio operator for communicating after a disaster if all you have is a cell phone.
Your phone is not designed to work in a peer-to-peer environment. No app (Zello, etc) will change it. You cannot turn a cell phone into a walkie-talkie. Only walkie-talkies work that way.
Save your battery. If power is out, ever amp-hour counts.
Text messaging takes up much less network capacity than voice. If you have limited service, a text message has the best chance of reaching the other end. Don’t expect reliable two-way communication, though. Sometimes a system can get out but cannot rout inbound.
But I have WiFi! My apps will work!
No, they won’t. You might connect to a router or hot spot, but those devices may not have connectivity. Don’t count on email.
If you live in an area hit by a disaster (or if you evacuate), identify one person living outside your zone. That person is your point of contact for everyone else. Relay messages through this person.
Let your spokesman know your plan. Have them communicate it to everyone else. Use either social media or a good old-fashioned phone trees to communicate.