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March 17, 2013

Smartphones can keep eye on sky for weather

NORMAN — When the skies threaten, people turn to their wireless device for weather updates. An Online Publishers Association report indicates that 47 percent of smartphone owners regularly use it to check the weather.

U.S. Cellular customers with select mobile devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy S III and Motorola ELECTRIFY M, receive Wireless Emergency Alerts, also called the Commercial Mobile Alert System, which was created by the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency .

U.S. Cellular recommends the following tips and free smartphone apps in recognition of Severe Weather Awareness Week from March 3 to March 9:

· Have important numbers handy and back them up:  

· Break through with texting: If phone service is impacted by a high volume of calls during a storm, try sending a text message. Text messages take up less bandwidth on the network than calls and may work when phone service is intermittent.

 · Stay up to date with breaking news: There are many free apps available through Google Play — such as The Weather Channel, WeatherBug, MyRadar, GO Weather and AccuWeather for Android — that can provide you with the tools you need to stay on top of severe weather.

· Store “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) contacts in your phone: Simply program “ICE” in front of a person’s name or title, such as “ICE Mom” or “ICE Dave,” to help first responders quickly contact these important people. Make sure the ICE contact knows about any medical conditions that could affect emergency treatment for an individual, such as allergies or current medication.

· Stay charged up: Phones should be kept charged so that customers have sufficient battery life when they need it. If driving, keep a car charger with you to re-charge while on-the-go. If a battery starts to run out, U.S. Cellular customers can switch out a dead or dying battery for free at any U.S. Cellular store through the company’s Battery Swap program.

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