We’re lucky to live in a smartphone age. No more waiting for a TV newsflash during a weather scare or worrying that a power outage might cut you off from the news. In case of a hurricane, flood or whatever may come, the help and resources you need are always at your fingertips. Government services and relief agencies now provide mobile apps, news feeds and websites for disaster alerts, real-time updates and first aid how-to guides. If a natural disaster should strike, you can prepare your smartphone for emergency help.
We’ve rounded up 10 essential sources to download or bookmark on your phone, so you’ll always have everything you need in the palm of your hand, home or away.
- American Red Cross Disaster Online Newsroom: This blog-style site is updated frequently with regional disaster alerts and responses from on-site resources. It also provides links to help you locate the closest Red Cross shelter in your area if needed.
- National Weather Service Hazards Map: Don’t let the weather surprise you. With live data refreshed every five minutes, this color-coded map provides warnings about blizzards, floods, dense fogs and more in every part of the country. (You can even follow the Twitter feed @noaa for warnings.)
- National Hurricane Center Twitter Feed: If you live near the Atlantic coast, follow the National Hurricane Center on Twitter for analyses, forecasts and warnings of hazardous tropical weather.
- Earthquake Notification Service: Sign up for the free Earthquake Notification Service (ENS), which automatically sends an email or text message to let you know when earthquakes happen in your area. You can tailor ENS to suit your needs: delivering messages for certain magnitudes, areas, at specified times, and to multiple addresses.
- Emergency Radio App: This mobile app tunes you into thousands of live emergency frequencies, including police, fire, EMS, railroad, air traffic, the Coast Guard and more. You can scan through a built-in list, locate nearby frequencies and bookmark your favorites. (Available only for iPhone and iPod Touch.)
- FEMA Twitter Channel: The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) now uses Twitter as part of its nationwide emergency alert system. It also provides safety tips and initiatives
- Emergency First Aid App: Refer to this handy offline guide when you need emergency first aid tips. Learn what to do in case of choking, burns, shock and more. (Available for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.)
- Disaster Readiness Guide App: This readiness guide helps you prepare for or react to any major disaster. Once downloaded, you can access the mobile app without an Internet or data connection. Learn what to do before, during and after a fire, flood, hurricane, winter storm, earthquake and more. (Available for iPhone and Android.)
- Battery Boost Magic App: Download this mobile app to maximize and extend the battery life on your mobile device. It also lets you know exactly how much power you have to use for different functions on your gadget. (Available for iPhone, iPod or iPad.)
- GEICO Mobile App: Download the GEICO App so no matter what happens, all your important insurance information is on hand. Access your policy, digital ID cards, roadside help, and an Accident Guide whenever or wherever you need them.
One last tip: In your mobile phone book, list an ICE contact, In Case of Emergency. If you’re in trouble and medical workers need to reach a parent, spouse or best friend, they search “ICE” in your phone to contact the right person.
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By Heather Li