Pay Phones as Emergency Communications Mechanism

(cc photo by compujeramey)

Rebecca Solnit on planning for an emergency:

I live in earthquake country, so I’ve been told most of my life that I must have an earthquake kit. Almost anyone anywhere would benefit from having an emergency kit on hand: the usual flashlight, blanket, coins for pay phones (cell phones and cell-phone service die quick in disaster), small bills, portable water, and so forth. To really deal with an emergency, though, you not only need to pack, but to unpack.

How many working payphones are really left in most American cities? I completely grant that in a disaster cell phone networks will probably be swamped and communication will be difficult, but I’m not sure this works very well as fallback plan.