When I first decided I was moving from Wisconsin to Florida many friends said something along the lines of, “Oh my gosh, aren’t you worried about hurricanes?” I told them I’d actually prefer hurricanes over tornados, which are pretty common in Wisconsin. I went on to explain that at least with hurricanes we typically have plenty of advance warning whereas with a tornado there is often not much time to react (or worse, it touches down when you’re sleeping).
It wasn’t until South Florida was watching Hurricane Isaac (2012) that I decided I better get an emergency kit and communication plan put together. Not only would I want to let my family know what was happening but I also needed to factor in how I was going to communicate to my clients. (As virtual assistants we want to be reliable and proactive when it comes to our clients.)
Our devices can play an important role in preparation, staying abreast of new developments and keeping our family and friends up to date with what’s happening. Here are just a few useful apps to check out.
Emergency Apps for Your Smartphone and Other Devices
- FEMA’s mobile app has checklists, safety tips and lists of open shelters
- Red Cross Hurricane Tracker offers many features including personalized location alerts, one touch “I’m safe” messaging, and preloaded content which can be accessed without a connection
- NOAA Weather Free – this app has useful weather information and broadcasts but does not have severe weather alerts
- Your local TV station may also have an app that has severe weather alerts
Device Tips for Hurricane Preparedness
- Set up your device to receive WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts). Verizon has a list of enabled devices and instructions on how to set them up.
- Design a call tree with family, friends, and clients – this will help you shares status updates more efficiently and hopefully will help your device stay charged longer .
- Purchase external power chargers/battery packs such as the Mophie Juice Pack, Power Pack Slim 4000 or the Anker Dual USB Portable Charger. NOTE: I have both the Power Pack Slim and the Anker – they are both fantastic and the Power Pack Slim is great for everyday use due to it’s small size (it fits easily into a purse).
- A solar charger will come in useful as well if you’re without power for an extended time. This particular one also has an emergency flashlight.
There are a number of useful checklists available from organizations such as Red Cross, FEMA, and the National Weather Service but I found there wasn’t a comprehensive list available and so I downloaded all I could find and made up my own list. You’ll want to spend some time reviewing numerous sites and resources so you can be fully prepared.
Emergency Checklists and Resources
- Red Cross Safety Checklist Library (direct link to their hurricane checklist)
- FEMA’s hurricane resources
- National Weather Service
- Verizon’s: How to Prepare for a Hurricane with Smart Technology
Have your emergency kit ready and consider these additional tips as part of your plan:
- Be sure to have plenty of cash on hand – power is often out for an extended period of time after a hurricane and you’ll need a non-plastic method of payment for purchases you’ll need to make
- If you lose power be sure to turn off your central air unit and fridge – this helps protect them from unexpected surges when the power is restored
- Store your emergency kit items in an easy-to-carry plastic tote
- A weather radio (preferably a hand crank model such as this one)
The last two hurricane seasons have been rather quiet but it’s never too soon to be ready. What other apps and resources have you used to prepare for severe weather?
As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I have received devices from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise positive feedback. All opinions are my own.