Hurricane season (June-November) on the Atlantic has come early this year and may be an indication of worse things to come. I certainly am hoping the weather stays calm and nice, but that might not be the case.
Technology advancements over the past 10-20 years has made us ever more dependant on our smartphones more than ever. In 2011, when the Pew Research Center started tracking smartphone ownership, 38% of Americans owned smartphones. Today, that number has ballooned to 68%, meaning 7/10 rely on their smartphones for a vast majority of information.
Why relying too heavily on your smartphone can be dangerous
Smartphones need power. Without power, there are many of you who do not have access to contacts, maps, radio, and emergency plans. Some experts have made the argument that technology is making us less smart because Google Search answers every question we have, we no longer can memorize phone numbers, we forget how to navigate, in addition to a whole host of other skills that existed prior to smartphones.
While I do agree that we are becoming more dependant on our smartphones, I don’t agree that we are becoming less smart. We are evolving and learning different things.
In cases of emergency, like when a Hurricane strikes and power goes out, there are many of us who no longer own paper maps, Rolodexes for storing contacts, FM/AM radios, and heck, even cash money! Cash is definitely a thing of the past with credit cards and mobile payments. However when the power goes out, you will need to have a plan in place to ensure you’re prepared to take on the worst.
In 2005, 23 days after Hurricane Katrina local utilities had power restored to only three-quarters of their customers. If you’re the type who is not prepared to live without power, I strongly suggest you start prepping today.
Know if you live in an evacuation area. Assess your risks and know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind. Understand National Weather Service forecast products and especially the meaning of NWS watches and warnings.
Contact your local National Weather Service office and local government/emergency management office. Find out what type of emergencies could occur and how you should respond.
Online hazard and vulnerability assessment tools are available to gather information about your risks.
- Check your hazards risks with FEMA’s Map Portal.
- Rate your flood risk with the FloodSmart.gov portal.
NOAA Weather Radar is a powerful yet easy-to-use weather station right on your device. Real-time animated weather radar images on a highly interactive map enhanced with severe weather warnings and alerts for your exact location won’t let bad weather take you by surprise!
Contacts to have in your phone and on paper
In Case of Emergency (ICE) – Designate someone close to you as your ICE go to person.
You can download ICE – in case of emergency from the Google Play Store. ICEcard is a convenient way to store information needed by rescuers and doctors if you are a victim of an emergency. In addition to a list of contacts of the closest persons, it also allows you to save information about taken medications, passed diseases, allergies and other health information.
Many of your local resources have apps and websites which can keep you notified in advance of emergencies. Scour the Google Play Store for you local news stations, radio stations, law enforcement, and insurance companies to make sure you are covered. Remember to write this information down on paper too.
- Emergency Management Offices
- County Law Enforcement
- County Public Safety Fire/Rescue
- State, County, and City/Town Government
- Local Hospitals
- Local Utilities
- Local American Red Cross
- Local TV Stations
- Local Radio Stations
- Your Property Insurance Agent
Plan & Take Action
Everyone needs to be prepared for the unexpected. Your friends and family may not be together when disaster strikes. How will you find each other? Will you know if your children or parents are safe? You may have to evacuate or be confined to your home. What will you do if water, gas, electricity or phone services are shut off?
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
- Food, at least a three-day supply
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio
- Chargers, car chargers, batteries and power banks, Solar charging panels
- Lamps and flashlights
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Local maps – make sure everyone in your family knows how to read maps
- First Aid Kit
- Can opener and knife
- Cash and checks
- Insurance policies (most insurance companies have apps too)
- Waterproof matches, paper and pencil, utensils, hygiene items, fire extinguisher, additional clothing
- 15 Tech gadgets you’ll wish you owned during a power outage or natural disaster
Don’t forget about your pets
Pets have their own set of needs and you can develop an emergency pet plan just for them. FEMA has created a guide that you can read about here.
Other Apps to consider keeping on your smartphone
The FEMA app is your one-stop-shop with tools and tips to keep you safe before, during, and after disasters. Stay updated with weather-related alerts from the U.S. National Weather Service. Upload and share your disaster photos to help out emergency managers with Disaster Reporter. Save a custom list of the items in your family’s emergency kit, as well as the places you will meet in case of an emergency.
Hurricane – American Red Cross – download at the Google Play Store
Be ready for severe weather with Hurricane by American Red Cross. Monitor conditions in your area or throughout the storm track, prepare your family and home, find help and let others know you are safe – a must have for anyone who lives in an area where a hurricane may strike or has loved ones who do.