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Essential Tech For Emergency Preparedness

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September is National Emergency Preparedness Month.  Why September?  Although world disasters happen throughout the year, September tends to be the month when Atlantic hurricanes peak.  Let’s hope this year, we’ve already seen the peak, because this past week was catastrophic.

This article was written before the horrendous Harvey hurricane storm pounded Texas and now parts of Louisiana, but it just goes to show, when the unfathomable happens, preparation can be essential.

So far Texas registered over 51 inches of rainfall, more rain in 4 days than they typically get in a year.

There are a number of Emergency Preparedness kits you can buy online, most don’t include anything tech-related more than a flashlight or basic radio.  But nowadays, technology can really assist you to obtain help as well as assess the current state of affairs within your city, state, and even further.

 

emergency preparedness

 

Emergency Preparedness Tech Checklist

Obviously, one of the best devices you can have in an emergency is your cellphone.  If charged and your mobile data signal is clear, it can get you to the Internet to send email,  and notify people if you need help.  

If there is a large disaster in your area, it’s likely the cellular data lines will be jammed with people trying to call out and people calling in to see if loved ones are OK.

We’ve compiled a list of apps/websites and devices to help you weather the storm better.

 

Apps/Websites

FEMA App 

Download the FEMA app.  The FEMA app is your go-to resource when a disaster happens.  It will provide you with:

  • National Weather alerts
  • Safety tips and reminders
  • An emergency checklist
  • Open Shelters
  • FEMA people to talk to (via the phone or in person)
  • A way to upload photos to help first responders

Sign up for FEMA preparedness text tips alerts before disaster strikes.  Here’s how:

  • To sign up to receive emergency preparedness tips: text PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA)
  • List of all keywords you can subscribe to…text LIST to 43362 (4FEMA)

 

 

Facebook

Facebook may not be the first place you think of to go to in an emergency, but think about it, it’s one of the best ways to let family and friends you are alright…or need help.  Facebook recognizes this and as a result, they created the free service, Safety Check.  

Safety Check is automatically initiated once Facebook detects a number of people posting about the incident in an affected area.  Once you check in, you will automatically be directed to the Safety Check area to let friends know you’re safe.

This is an incredible resource.  When I checked Facebook this past week, my notifications told me that some of my friends in Texas had checked in and were safe.  I clicked on a link which brought me to a lot of conversations happening in Texas.  People were requesting rescue boats to their houses and whether a family at a certain address was OK.  

People not in Texas were helping to get information and resources to families in desperate need of help as well as get the word out to extended family members that a loved one was OK.  It’s truly an amazing way to reach out at the precise moment of need help, to people who live far away from you.

 

Red Cross Safe & Well

In addition to Facebook, the Red Cross’ Safe & Well website is a good site to visit to get information out to family and friends. Once you register, you can select a message to let them know you’re good.  Your name will be searchable in their database, accessed from the website.

 

Dropbox or Another Cloud Service

Should an emergency separate you from your house and belongings, or destroy them altogether, having a folder online in the cloud of all of your important documents and family photos is a smart idea.

Documents can include:

  • bank accounts
  • credit card companies
  • health insurance info.
  • drivers licenses
  • passports
  • insurance policies
  • medical records
  • family & friend contacts
  • pet information (including micro ID chips)
  • scanned pictures of pre-digital family photos
  • digital pictures/photo albums
  • home/work documents
  • logins & passwords
  • Computer backups

 

Texting

As mobile networks…and even landlines…can quickly get overwhelmed during an emergency, texting might be your best bet.  I learned this during the Northridge Earthquake, which had a magnitude of 6.7.  

It was by far the most violent earthquake I had ever experienced.  I tried calling out but to no avail.  To my surprise, my good friend from Cleveland was able to call in and ring me.  She relayed to me what the news was reported in Cleveland.

So, don’t rely on your mobile phone to make calls.  Instead, come up with a text messaging plan, as text messages require less bandwidth.

Make sure that your phone and your spouse’s and kids’ phones have emergency contacts to text in case of an emergency.  We recommend choosing someone local and someone out-of-state.

 

Devices

Here are some devices you may not have thought about to include in your emergency preparedness plan…

Motorola Talkabout T480 radios – we tested out these great emergency red Talkabout T480 walkie talkies and will publish our review later in the month.  They are rechargeable, include a radio for NOAA weather alerts, have a built-in flashlight, are waterproof, can last up to 10 hours without a charge, and work well as walkie talkies for communication.

Back up Charger – Put a high lithium battery charger in your emergency kit along with some extra Apple, micro-USB’s, and USB – C (the newest standard) cables.  We recommend the Kanex GoPower USB-C portable power pack (that can also charge a Macbook) or a Ventev portable battery pack, or a myCharge Hubmax portable battery pack.

Car Charger – a mini portable jumper pack is a must have for any car, it can not only power your mobile devices but actually help you jump a dead battery as well. We have tried the Cyntur JumperPack Mini, it works great and has jumped our car battery several times without the need of another car to charge it.  Best yet, the battery charge lasts up to a year, so it will be ready if you need it during an emergency.

Western Digital My Cloud Home Duo – if you prefer not to store your personal and financial data in the cloud, the Western Digital My Home Duo is a great storage solution.  It plugs into your network and you can either back up all the computers in your home network to it or have all of your home PC’s save their information to it instead of locally.  It’s called Duo because it has two external hard drives – one for saving your data and the other for replicating your data in rare event the first My Cloud Home Duo drive fails.  In case of an urgent emergency, just grab the MyHome Duo instead of needing to unplug and grab all of your home PC’s.

  

WellConnectedMom.com

A Mom’s Perspective

Can you ever prepare enough for a disaster such as Hurricane Harvey?  No. But by having devices in place as well as apps and websites you can use to get help, it will greatly aid your emergency preparedness plan.

You are likely no stranger to either hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, droughts, floods, severe weather, and other natural anomalies.  Nowadays, we have natural disasters and more to worry about, namely an active shooter in the neighborhood or terrorism.

I live in Southern California.  Droughts, earthquakes, and wildfires are the norm here.  It’s hard not to get complacent about their regular occurrence.  My brother and his family live in Oklahoma.  They have had to evacuate to their shelter a handful of times.  Fortunately, a tornado hasn’t touched down on them.

As you prepare for school, emergency preparedness makes sense.  As September is Emergency Preparedness month, and your child is likely also learning about preparing for emergencies at school, take the time to work with your children to devise a plan.  

Work together to collect the necessary items needed for your emergency kit.  Talk about an escape plan and who to contact if you get separated.  Also, talk about what to do if an emergency happens while you are traveling – either together as a family or even if you’re on a business trip and they are home.

Let your child’s enthusiasm for collecting items for an emergency kit be a family bonding experience that builds upon the foundation for caring for your family.  You won’t regret it.



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