Hurricane season is off to an early and busy start this year, with two named storms skirting the East Coast even before the season officially began on June 1. That means it’s time to get moving on hurricane preparedness. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted 9-15 named storms, 4-8 hurricanes and 1-3 major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher. Because hurricanes can bring strong winds, flooding rains, and tornadoes even far inland, being organized for an emergency is important to anyone living along the Eastern seaboard.
Fortunately, smart phone users have a number of apps available to help in organizing for and dealing with a weather or other type of emergency. Some recommended by The Organizing Zone and The Charlotte Observer include:
The FEMA App contains preparedness information for organizing for different types of emergencies, an interactive checklist for emergency kits, a section to plan emergency meeting locations, information on how to stay safe and recover after a disaster, a map with FEMA Disaster Recovery Center locations (one-stop centers where disaster survivors can access key relief services) and Shelters, general ways the public can get involved before and after a disaster, and the FEMA blog. This free app is available on three platforms:
NOAA Now – Available for iPhone (free) and Android ($0.99), this app shares the latest severe weather information, including hurricanes and tropical storms as well as tornado and severe thunderstorm alerts.
Flashlight Apps (Flashlight by i4software for iPhone, $0.99 or Tiny Flashlight for Android, free) – these apps provide a bright light from the phone’s screen and/or camera flash LED. The iPhone version will automatically shut down other apps to conserve battery power when the light is turned on. Though it’s always a good idea to keep a flashlight with fresh batteries on each floor of your home, this can be a good backup and is useful if you’re away from home in a power outage.
Home Photo Inventory – though we should all keep a current photo inventory of our home’s contents, it often ends up on our “things to do someday” list. Home Inventory Photo Remote (for iPhone, free) and MyHomePro: Home Inventory (for Android, $3.99) make creating an inventory quick and easy. You just snap photos and can add details, create categories and store location information. A bar code reader allows you to scan an item or its packaging and automatically add it to your inventory.
Supply Lists – Hurricane Supply List (for iPhone, free) or Disaster Readiness Guide (for Android, $1.29) offer checklists of hurricane preparedness supplies you’ll need before, during and after a hurricane if you’re planning to remain in your home.
Hotel/Motel Finder – finding an inexpensive place to stay can be important should you have to evacuate your home, or if your vacation is cut short by an impending storm. Frugal Hotel and Motel Finder (for iPhone and Android) will find budget lodging in 40,000 cities.
WebMD – this app provides trusted information to check symptoms, access drug & treatment information, get first aid essentials, and check local health listings, all of which can be helpful in an emergency situation where healthcare professionals may not be immediately reachable.
SPOT Connect – this satellite service allows users to be found anywhere on Earth (even without a cell signal) by connecting to the Globalstar satellite network. The app can notify others, including emergency responders, of one’s GPS location coordinates and current status. Users can also store up to 10 predefined messages for quick reference and for sending in an emergency. Available for both iPhone and Android.