Friday, May 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

How to use the internet during a hurricane when the internet is down

The flashlights and batteries are at the ready. The water and canned food is stocked. The sandbags are filled.

And while the track of Hurricane Irma is starting to look like it may go farther east, and away from Tampa Bay, what happens if the power goes out and we lose internet connection to the world outside Irma?

While there's not an app to recreate such a connection, there are a few workarounds, as long as you have cellular service.

RELATED: Will Zello work without phone or internet service during Irma? What to know about the walkie talkie app

During and following the storm, making and receiving phone calls may be impossible, and 3G and 4G internet service could not work at all — or at least not well.

But the key here is that you may still be receiving text messages.

If that's the case, there is a solution. But beware, the process is a little complicated.

HumanInet, an organization that assists in communication technology for humanitarian aid, says that every phone has an email address and every provider offers something called an "email gateway," according to an article on the company's website.

The gateway allows people to send and receive emails via SMS.

HumanInet explains how to find your phone's email address:

•Verizon: [email protected] (as in [email protected]), or if that doesn't work, [email protected]

•AT&T: [email protected], or if that doesn't work, [email protected]

•Sprint: [email protected]

•T-Mobile: [email protected]

(For other carriers, or to troubleshoot yours, check here.

Once you know your gateway address, you will need to forward your email via SMS to the address.

To do that, go to "settings" on your phone and look for something like "add a forwarding address." There, you will be able to type in your phone's email address.

This has to be done before you lose internet access.

If it doesn't work, and it may not, depending on your carrier and email provider, you can try an automated forwarding service such as TXTJet, HumanInet suggests.

It's not the most graceful process, but it's worth a shot.

If you want to get updates from important Twitter accounts when the internet is spotty, just text the word "Follow [username]" to 40404, according to a story from the Washington Post, written in 2012 ahead of Hurricane Sandy.

And you don't even need a Twitter account to do it.

But if you do have an account, and would like to post on Twitter, you can send a text to the same code (40404) with the word START. Then, Twitter should reply and ask you to text YES back.

Then you'll be asked to text only your username to the same number, without the @ symbol or quotation marks (example: samputterman).

Next, text your password. This is case sensitive, so make sure to type in your password correctly.

For Facebook, you can activate the social media site via SMS by going to your Facebook account settings, and selecting "Mobile."

Turn on "Facebook Message Forwarding and Notifications" After that's set up, post by texting to 32665 or FBOOK.

You can even search Google by adding 466453 (GOOGLE) to your phonebook, then text to it to search.

Information from HumanInet, The Washington Post, Twitter and Facebook was used in this report.

Contact Samantha Putterman at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @samputterman.

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