Friday, December 26, 2014

Emergency Tip: Best Apps for that New Holiday Device

Don't forget to add the weather and emergency alert apps
to that new device! 

Congratulations on your new phone and/or tablet!

During this holiday season, many of us will receive a new smart phone or tablet and will instantly start filling the new gizmo up with apps for Facebook, Twitter, Minecraft, etc.

Don't forget the really important apps - the ones that can really help your family in a crisis.

Best Apps to Keep You and Your Family Safe

A) First off, let's start with Weather Apps - these are useful every day.  Here are my 2 favorites, but searching in your device's App Store for "weather" will provide dozens of great ones.  Important: Make sure your app has push alerts for weather emergencies.
  1. WeatherBug - Nobody else (besides the National Weather Service) has their own commercial-grade weather and lightning observation network in the United States. 
  2. AccuWeather - This app has a very unique interface with hour-by-hour forecasts right on the main screen.

B) Next up are Emergency-specific Apps. My favorite series of apps in this category are from the Red Cross. Searching in your device's App Store for "Red Cross" will produce a dozen apps that are very helpful and very specific to regional emergencies.
  1. Red Cross Mobile Apps - They have apps for First Aid, Blood Donations, Floods, Earthquakes, Wildfires, etc. Download the apps that apply to the emergencies you may face. These apps are US-focused.
  2. For other parts of the world, use the search function in your App Store and look for "disaster alert", "emergency planning" or "emergency preparation". Adding your country or state to the search will most likely result in specific apps for your region, produced by either your government or a private organization.
For my friends in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) has produced an excellent alert app: Massachusetts Alerts.
  • Massachusetts Alerts is customized for Massachusetts and in addition to providing alerts and critical information about ongoing incidents and disasters, Massachusetts Alerts will also provide preparedness tips and information, and direct users to online resources to help them prepare for, manage during, and recover from the wide range of natural, technological and man-made hazards that threaten the residents of the Commonwealth.

C) Finally, set up and practice with your device's Texting, Video Chat, and Location Apps. These apps aren't as cool as the one's listed above, but during emergencies, texts may get through when the voice lines are all tied up. Also, being able to locate a family member's phone remotely will provide much needed information and peace of mind during an emergency. Make texting and other methods of communication part of your Family's Communication Plan. 

So enjoy all your new technology this week - and don't forget to add a few helpful apps for when things get really exciting!

Image credit: Copyright Patrick W. O'Connor.

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