How to use a cell phone when you have no signal in an emergency?

Updated April 17, 2017

Cell phones are important tools for making calls in emergencies. "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted rules aimed at improving the reliability of wireless 911 services and the accuracy of the location information transmitted with a wireless 911 call," according to the FCC's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau. This has helped strengthen the reliability and effectiveness of cell phone use in emergencies. Challenges may arise where there is no cell phone signal, but there are ways you can still use your cell phone in an emergency, even with no signal.

Remain calm and patient. Try not to panic because your cell phone does not have a signal.

Move to an area that can boost your cell phone's network reception (where applicable) such as outside a building, on an elevated open field away from high land mark features like hills or mountains and tall buildings. Pull over and park beside the road if you are making the call while driving. A cell phone signal is less likely to drop when you are stationary.

Redial the emergency call number about 10 seconds after the first call attempt. Push the call button to redial after the first call. Redialing about ten seconds later gives enough time for data from the handset to the cell cite to clear before the same data is resent and helps prevent network clogging.

Send a short message text from the Short messaging service (SMS) feature on your cell phone to an emergency contact person(s) who is in an area with network coverage. In some cases, a text message may go through where a call may not. Give as much relevant information about the emergency as possible, your location and or any landmarks that may point to your location to the emergency contact person. The contact person will make the emergency call on your behalf. Usually, you will not be able to send direct text messages, photos, videos or other data to emergency call lines such as 911.

Dial 112 from your cell phone if you still have no signal and cannot establish cell phone connection. The number 112 is an internationally recognised standard emergency number that when dialled can establishes an emergency signal where there is no signal. It is operational across the world including the United States and 27 European Union member countries.

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About the Author

David Kiarie has been an independent writer and communications practitioner since 2007. Based in Africa, he has written works that have been published in various platforms, including "Prime Scope Magazine." Kiarie particularly enjoys writing about Africa, including African travel and art. He has a Bachelor of Arts in language and communication and literature from the University of Nairobi.