Flood, fire, tornado, hurricane, or earthquake? Which one do you fear most? Preparing for the unimaginable extends beyond assembling survival kits with dry food, water, first aid, and other necessities. You need to prepare your smartphone and tablet. Here are some tips and lists for you to consider.
The smartphone is the most important lifesaving electrical device to grab when a disaster engulfs your community into a world of chaos. With luck, you will have it with you since its convenience may assist your day-to-day activities.
The question to explore is whether your device is ready to support you when your surrounding world crashes down. Preparedness includes the download of apps offered for disaster management. In the adrenaline-fueled moments of fight-or-flight, the information collected through your smartphone will ground your decisions with real-time data and bring to your fingertips a virtual army of experts. The screen will become the portal through which you replenish courage and resilience with a connection to the outside world of rescuers, friends and strangers who picked up the distress signal from afar. The smart device utilities also give a digital signature of where you are through the device’s internal GPS and a flashlight with a pulsing S.O.S.
However, don’t assume that your experience with the phone will be like a regular call. Smart technology behaves differently in times of disasters. The phone lines may ring busy, the WIFI system may no longer work, the local cellular towers may have suffered through a storm, and the number of phone calls attempted may overwhelm local phone networks. A text message has a greater chance to reach someone else even if delayed because the smartphone will continue to try to send it until the radio waves open a window of bandwidth for it to take off.
Your emergency plan needs to include a long-distance friend or family member who can be the intermediary if you are separated from your loved ones. Even if the local network is saturated, out-of-state calls may still reach someone.
Uploads and downloads burn battery energy faster in the absence of a WIFI system. Portable chargers for your phone are more than a convenience. They are essential to increasing the odds of survival. Always maintain a backup of charged storage sticks for your phones and devices. For your computer, consider investing in a backup battery that holds power for several hours. Make it a habit to save your files in the cloud to be able to retrieve them from any location even if you lose your computer to a flood or fire.
Planning is an antidote to panic and disorientation. Let’s explore how to make your smart devices your best ally in disaster situations.
Apps for Natural Disasters and Epidemics
The outside world may be better informed about what is happening or you may have first row seats to a scary development. Some may not hear about the incoming disaster; others may underestimate the danger. For many, the threat strikes faster than anticipated. At this specific moment, it is important to know how to react.
Several apps provide in-the-moment tips and checklists, updates on current conditions, and a bridge of communication between family members and friends.
The American Red Cross mobile apps – Downloaded more than 7 million times, this set of apps provides a portal to flood, fire, tornado, hurricane and earthquake experts. These tools also come with customizable alerts for weather conditions and other emergency conditions.
MyRadar Weather Radar – This app observes and records the status of the weather, from rain to wind speeds and temperature.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) apps – For medical crises, these apps guide through what to do in a variety of medical emergency situations including infectious outbreaks. As an example, CDC HEADS UP Concussion and Helmet Safety app helps spot the signs of a concussion. CDC also aids physicians in managing an epidemic outbreak.
FEMA – This app receives direct information about weather conditions and provides a channel of communication between users and their loved ones. Additionally, it gives lists to build emergency kits, family disaster management plans, and locates any open shelters.
Facebook’s Crisis Response, Safety Check, and The Community Help Tool coalesces safety tools, gives an easy way to tell friends that you are safe, and sets a virtual gathering place to coordinate help during emergency situations and in the aftermath of disasters.
Apps that Care About Pets in Time of Disaster
When a disaster occurs and chaos erupts, it is easy to lose track of one another. This is especially true with animal companions and pets. In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, over 600 pets were displaced. Luckily, there are apps to help keep track of nonhuman family members as well.
ASPCA Mobile App – This app helps manage pets with a free service that issues animal welfare breaking news, a guide with instructions for care of pets in times of disasters and assists step by step the process of finding a lost four-legged friend.
Tagg – This GPS based tracker app pings the location of a pet.
The American Red Cross Pet First Aid App – This app is designed for emergencies with guidance for animal first aid intervention, the closest vet or 24-hour animal hospital and other medical information that is critical to save an animal.
BringFido – A big struggle when finding shelter for a family is finding a place where animals are welcome. This app locates all animal friendly hotels and inns and provides prices for all available rooms.
Apps that Help Manage the Aftermath
Many families lost their homes in 2018 and 2019 due to natural disasters. The Woolsey fire in late 2018 burned nearly 97,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,500 buildings, both commercial and residential. The 2017 Harvey hurricane caused more than $125B of destruction, levelling down numerous structures. Tornados leave a trail of flattened homes declared hazardous zones. What do you do when your home no longer has a roof? Several apps give a bridge to recovery services.
Apps & Tools – Data.gov – As a service offered by the White House, this website specifies key disaster aid apps. They are designed to survey the surrounding area, advise on important life saving actions, identify any hazardous materials, structures, and substances, and support through relief responders.
Fulcrum Apps – Fulcrum develops a myriad of apps designed to aid both individuals and assessment teams to size up damage, cost of repairs and community impact.
In closure, planning is key to survival from terrible natural disasters. Apps give many tools to be ready for the unimaginable. Include these tools in your survival kit checklist for your home and business.