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Technology Tips for Hurricane Preparedness

fema_app-WEBAs my regular readers know, when it comes to natural disasters and other calamities I make it my business to be part of the unofficial Team Readiness. As a professional organizer in NYC, I owe it to my clients and to the city I love to do that.

The most recent catastrophic event for the city of New York and nearby regions is variously known as Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Sandy, or just plain Sandy.

Whatever name one uses for this enormous and grim natural disaster, the storm reminded us that even in a place as urban and developed as New York, we must give Mother Nature her due. We must prepare for hurricanes, no less than those who live on the coasts of Florida, Georgia, Texas, or the Carolinas. Hurricanes are simply part of our reality here, just as they are in more famously hurricane-prone parts of the country.

With strong winds, flooding rains, storm surges, and the risk of tornadoes all associated with landfalling hurricanes, getting organized for a hurricane emergency before it happens is what responsible people want to do.

Luckily, a number of very helpful apps have been developed to assist natural disasters as they unfold. As a professional organizer in NYC, I suggest downloading at least a few of these apps and becoming comfortable with their use:

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 we advise in our home organizing tips 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) and MyHomePro: Home Inventory (for Android) 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. Investing the time to use one of these apps to create a home inventory is one of our favorite home organizing tips for preparing for a disaster, natural or otherwise.

Supply Lists – Hurricane Supply List or Disaster Readiness Guide offer checklists of hurricane preparedness supplies you’ll need before, during and after a hurricane if you’re planning to remain in your home. As a professional organizer in NYC, I will attest to the usefulness of smart lists!

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 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. Available for iPhone and Android.

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.

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