What will you do when disaster strikes? Natural disasters are notoriously unpredictable, leaving destruction and death in their wake. While preventing a natural disaster isn’t always possible, preparing for a disaster is. Preparation can provide you with a plan and the means to ensure the safety of those you love. In honor of National Preparedness Month in September, here are three apps that will help you and your family prepare for the next big disaster.
Whether the crisis is a hurricane, tornado, widespread wildfire or other natural disaster, you face an increased risk of sustaining a health or life-threatening injury. Since many such injuries result in a loss of consciousness, you need someone to speak for you and let emergency personnel know critically important information, including allergies, blood type and medications. The ICE Standard app does just that.
ICE is an acronym for “in case of emergency.” It’s a short form containing vitally important health information that can be accessed from the lock screen of your Android or Apple smartphone. The great thing about this app is that it provides needed information without jeopardizing your privacy. It also presents emergency contact phone numbers and your insurance information to cut down on lengthy screening questions at the ER.
Emergency Red Cross
The Emergency Red Cross app lives up to the reputation of its developer, the American Red Cross. This app is a compilation of several previously available disaster-specific apps. A comprehensive resource for both Android and Apple devices, the app can provide you with customizable emergency alerts, area shelters, first aid directions, “I’m Safe” notification for families, and guidance for mudslides and other natural hazards.
While it’s nice to have somewhere to turn in a crisis, the family disaster planning tools can help you devise a plan to get your family out of harm’s way and safely back together as soon as possible. In addition to the connected features, this app features quite a bit of pre-loaded emergency response information that is accessible even if your phone service or network connection is interrupted.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers quick and convenient help through a free app for both Android and Apple devices. In addition to providing contact information for FEMA and a platform for uploading disaster photos to share with the federal agency after a storm, this app can keep you informed during storms with helpful tips, safety information and National Weather Service alerts for up to five locations.
It can also help you devise a customized emergency checklist that includes family meeting locations and open shelters during storms. When the storm is over, the convenience of being able to quickly snap property damage photos and send them to FEMA will give you more time to spend with your family while allowing you to get recovery efforts underway.
During any disaster, always seek emergency help and safe shelter first. While it may be tempting to snap a few quick pictures for FEMA or hastily swipe in a disaster plan as you wait for help to arrive, always keep your attention focused on your surrounding environment and potential hazards, especially electrical lines, possible chemical spills or leakage, and debris. Once you’ve taken care of the basics, phone apps can be a useful tool to help you prepare, survive and recover from a natural disaster because they can help you anticipate needs and access the emergency support services available to you.