By: Kent Petty, KL5T
When bad things happen…
So, we all want to be prepared for the day that bad things happen. In Alaska, and specifically, here in South Central Alaska, that of course would typically mean an earthquake, volcanic eruption, or both.
We hope that we are ready. But perhaps something overlooked is the importance of thinking about who you’d want to contact outside of our area (loved ones and friends) and HOW to contact them. You’d want to let them know your situation right, like, you are OK?
So, what do you need to have at the ready when it comes to reaching out?
1. The names of the folks you might need to contact.
2. The PHYSICAL address of the folks that you might need to contact.
3. The MAILING address of the folks that you might need to contact.
4. The telephone number of the folks that you might need to contact, and importantly, the CELLULAR (mobile) telephone number of those folks.
5. The cell phone provider for the folks that you need to contact (WHAT! I’ll explain below).
6. The e-mail addresses of the folks that you might need to contact.
If you have all these bits of info in your tidy emergency preparedness notebook (which each member of your family has a copy of, or at least has access to), you will increase the likelihood of successfully getting the word out to these important people in your lives.
We have many ways to reach out via amateur radio, but one extremely important way is via Winlink messaging. Of course, we can send a traditional Winlink message just like an e-mail, but we can ALSO send an e-mail message out via Winlink (or any e-mail service for that matter), that will land with your important person as a TEXT message. Did you know that? Yes indeed!
Anyone can send an e-mail to a cell phone as a text using the interface setup by most cell phone providers. How? simply by addressing the e-mail message using the proper format with the correct address. Look at this partial list here:
firstname.lastname@example.org (Consumer Cellular)
email@example.com (Cellular One)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Southwestern Bell)
email@example.com (US Cellular)
A complete list can be found at https://avtech.com/articles/138/list-of-email-to-sms-addresses/. There are plenty of other sites you can find this info.
For example, if you have Aunt Grace’s cellular number, let’s pretend it’s 222-333-4444, AND you know her cell phone carrier (let’s say it’s AT&T), you can send her an e-mail that will land on her cell phone as a text message. Address it as:
What if you don’t know the carrier for the phone number? No problem! You can look that up as well. There are several sites where you can look up the carrier for a phone number. Here are two:
Once you determine the name of the carrier, you can look up their e-mail-to-text delivery schema. Test this out with your own phone.
Getting a message out via Winlink e-mail message that will land on a cell phone could be the fastest way to get a message out in case commercial communications are lost here in Alaska (or anywhere). Remember, not everybody who carries a cell phone gets pinged when they receive an e-mail message, but text messages usually get the recipient’s attention quickly.
Remember, this information isn’t just for we “HAMS”. Share this with your friends and neighbors so that they’ll have the necessary into in their hands to provide to US when we need to send messages out for them.
To learn more about Winlink and important emergency communications efforts being undertaken by the Anchorage Amateur Radio Club / Radio Science and Operations Center, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, We are always at the RSOC on Wednesday mornings from at least 0700 – 1100 for SHARES, on Wednesday evenings for the South Central Simplex Net, and on Saturday mornings from about 0900 – 1200. We are there at other unscheduled times as well.
Please remember that we are still “mask mandatory” at the RSOC, so please respect others who are present. You can always call 907.345.0719 to see if anyone is on-site before you come (hopefully someone is close to the phone). If you roll up to the vehicle gate and it is closed, please call 907.345.0719 for entry.
Kent Petty, KL5T