The 108th anniversary of the 1906 Loma Prieta Earthquake in California is on Friday, and today began Colorado Severe Weather Awareness Week. No matter where you live, it is critical to be prepared in the event of an emergency – and luckily for us, there are many apps available to gather pertinent information before, during, and after an emergency. While we cannot prevent natural disasters, we can be prepared for chaos… and the preparedness begins with a few simple app downloads.
1. Red Cross
The Red Cross offers a large variety of apps, including a Shelter Finder App, Earthquake App, First Aid App, Tornado App, and Hurricane App. Depending on your geographic location, download the relevant apps that may come in handy in the event of a natural disaster. I live in San Francisco, so I downloaded the Red Cross Earthquake App. This app is extremely helpful – it sends alerts and notifications when a earthquake occurs and you’re able to let family and friends know you’re safe through a customize alert for Facebook, Twitter, email and text. The app also has a toolkit with a strobe light, flashlight and audible alert functions. You can also take quizzes that test your knowledge on earthquakes and then gives you the information you need when you get an answer wrong.
Shelter Finder is also a very practical yet simple app. It provides the locations for all open Red Cross shelters and gives detailed information about how many people are currently staying at each shelter, what the event was that necessitated a shelter, and when it was last updated.
Users shouldn’t wait until there’s an emergency to use the mobile apps [we offer],” said Bill Fortune, Communications Specialist for American Red Cross of Colorado. “The apps have shown that they can save lives but the key is to download it before you need it and to learn how to use the features that it provides.”
Red Cross Apps are available on both iTunes and Google Play.
After a natural disaster, the first question most people ask themselves is, “Are my loved ones okay?” Everyone tries to make phone calls, and oftentimes those calls won’t go through or the service is down altogether. The lack of communication can cause a lot of worry and stress, so Life360 aims to be a solution to this problem. As the world’s leading location-sharing app, Life360 allows families set up private networks to let each other know where they are and if they’re safe. It uses GPS data, so you’re able to “Check In” so your family knows exactly where you are. Life360 allows you to view your family members on a map, communicate with them, and receive alerts when your loved ones arrive at home, school or work. In the event of an emergency, a “Panic” alert calls, emails, and texts everyone in your circle.
While the app is free to download, upgrading to Premium for only $50 per year for a circle provides additional peace of mind. With Premium, you have 24/7 access to a Live Advisor, can create unlimited “Places” to show your family where you’re checking in, unlimited location lookups, extended history, and stolen phone protection. Additionally, Life360 has a “Find my Phone” feature and will reimburse you $100 if your phone is stolen and unable to be found.
The FEMA app features preparedness information for all types of disasters, checklists for emergency kits, and information on how to stay safe and what to do after a disaster. There is also valuable information on how to organize an emergency meeting location for family and friends, and a map of FEMA Disaster Recovery Center locations for accessing supplies and emergency aid.
4. Pocket First Aid & CPR
Developed by the American Heart Association, Pocket First Aid & CPR includes detailed instructions on what to do in emergency situations, including how to deal with with choking, burns, CPR, seizures, diabetic emergencies, and more. A first aid checklist makes sure you have what you need in the event of an emergency, and the emergency contacts screen allows one-click dialing to reach a doctor and other essential services.
5. Disaster Alert
This app accesses the Disaster AWARE (All-hazard Warnings, Analysis, and Risk Evaluation) platform and provides users to up-to-date access to active global hazards, including earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and areas with serious health risk. Disaster Alert turns complex technical jargon into information that people can understand easily, and over 1.5 million people have already downloaded this app. The app also includes alerts, notifications, and interactive maps.
Don’t wait until a disaster happens to download these applications. Take the first step in emergency preparedness and stay safe!