SAN ANTONIO–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – BUSINESS WIRE)–March 18, 2003–Amid the potential for war and continued terrorism threats, SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE:SBC) today launched “SBC Vital Connections,” an emergency readiness communications program to help families stay connected when it matters most.
SBC Vital Connections is an initiative designed to deliver expert communications tips, guidance and tools for building an emergency communications plan to help families maintain contact during uncertain times. The program was developed in response to recent emergency readiness suggestions by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
“More than ever, we live in a world heavily dependent on communications, and it is critical that we have open discussions with family members on how to remain connected in the event of an emergency,” said Juliette N. Kayyem, a domestic preparedness expert at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. “These tips provide an important guide for families across the nation.”
Whether family members are at work or school, at home or geographically separated, the program reminds consumers to be AWARE — Always Watchful, Alert and Ready in an Emergency — with tips for developing an emergency communications plan. Printable tips and other SBC Vital Connections tools, such as an emergency communications plan template, are available at http://www.sbc.com/vitalconnections. The SBC family of companies advises families to consider the following communications preparedness tips:
— Create a plan: Discuss and develop an emergency communications plan including communications methods and individuals to call.
— Compile vital information: Create a communications safety toolbox, which includes a list of phone numbers and e-mail addresses for family members, copies of business cards, and personal documents such as birth certificates for each family member.
— Know where to meet: Agree on a meeting place for your family in the event you are unable to communicate. Also determine a virtual meeting place such as a voicemail box or online chat site.
— Designate contacts: Agree on out-of-state contacts in the event family members cannot immediately communicate locally.
— Make plan accessible: Print copies of your family emergency plan and post on the refrigerator, and provide copies to each family member.
— Equip family members: Once the plan is created, ensure all family members are prepared with knowledge and tools to respond in an emergency.
— Know the code: Program speed-dial options with important phone numbers, and encourage family members to do the same.
— Know the address: Create an e-mail distribution list for friends and family in your personal network.
— Create IDs: Create photo IDs for every family member using the template available on http://www.sbc.com/vitalconnections.
— Conduct an inventory: Review existing communications devices and determine if family members would benefit by adding any services or phones that enable everyone to stay connected.
At work or school:
— Inform others: Inform trusted members of your personal network
— Including family, friends, babysitters, school teachers and colleagues — of emergency communications plans and key contact information.
— Keep communications options: Keep a charged cell phone, calling card and coins on hand to maintain several communications alternatives.
— Know where to go: Make sure children and any other family members attending school know where to call or go in the event you can’t communicate first.
— Be prepared: Carry a list of emergency communications contacts at all times.
— Distribute information: Ensure all family members know arrival and departure times, hotel and flight contact information.
— Set a point of contact: Determine the best place to call in the event of an emergency.
— Be patient: Be persistent, yet patient, as call volumes generally increase during emergencies. Therefore, limit your calls to only the most critical.
— If stranded: Keep your wireless phone on, as its signal can help determine your location. Limit the use of the phone to preserve battery.
— Think of options: Arm yourself and each traveling family member with calling cards, credit cards, pagers or other devices to enable calls from almost any phone.
In addition to the SBC Vital Connections program, SBC directories soon will include emergency preparedness information in support of the Department of Homeland Security’s emergency readiness campaign. SBC Directory Operations will join other major publishers belonging to the national Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association on this effort to offer emergency preparedness information to consumers.
“We have a long heritage of helping our customers communicate in times of crisis,” said William Daley, president, SBC Communications Inc. “We are committed to helping families and loved ones remain in personal communication — especially when it matters most – during an emergency.”
The SBC family of companies offers a variety of local, long distance (where available), Internet and wireless services to help customers stay connected.
The SBC Vital Connections program is consistent with tips provided by the Department of Homeland Security and based upon the SBC family of companies many years of telecommunications crisis management during storms, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other major disasters.
The SBC family of companies is committed to maintaining a high level of security and reliability for our networks, central offices, network operations centers, Internet data centers and core IT data centers. SBC employees utilize best practices, covering both security technology and employee and contractor conduct, to protect the integrity of all assets and information.
Consistent with its role as a provider of the nation’s communications infrastructure, SBC companies work directly with the federal government agencies responsible for homeland security as well as state and local law enforcement agencies.
For more information about SBC Vital Connections program or SBC, consumers can visit http://www.sbc.com/vital connections. For more information about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security emergency preparedness recommendations, visit http://www.ready.gov.
SBC Communications Inc. (http://www.sbc.com) is one of the world’s leading data, voice and Internet services providers. Through its world-class networks, SBC companies provide a full range of voice, data, networking and e-business services, as well as directory advertising and publishing. A Fortune 30 company, America’s leading provider of high- speed DSL Internet Access services, and one of the nation’s leading Internet Service Providers, SBC companies currently serve 57 million access lines nationwide. In addition, SBC companies own 60 percent of America’s second-largest wireless company, Cingular Wireless, which serves 22 million wireless customers. Internationally, SBC companies have telecommunications investments in 27 countries.
SBC Communications Inc.
Maribel Ferrer, 214/665-1308
Chris Talley, 210/351-2617