Smartphone apps can assist in disaster situations

Smartphone users can download a variety of disaster-related apps to be better prepared for emergencies and local or national disasters.

In the past, when a natural disaster struck an area, residents were often stranded for days, unable to communicate with emergency personnel and family or receive updates on local conditions and rescue efforts. Cellular phones and the Internet have been wonderful resources in recent years during disasters. Smartphone users have even more options with a myriad of disaster-related apps currently available from government, university and aid-relief organizations for free download:

Whether you are faced with wildfire, earthquake, hurricane, a first-aid emergency, or need emergency shelter, the American Red Cross offers an app for each of these situations.

If you live in an area where you may become stuck in your vehicle or stranded at home during severe winter weather, you may want to download the Winter Survival Kit app developed by North Dakota State University Extension via funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture. They’ve also developed a Disaster Recovery Log app to record information about damages to your home and property.

You may also want to investigate the disaster apps and mobile optimized websites that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers.

While Hurricane Sandy was threatening the East coast, Fox News published an article on their website featuring several disaster-related smartphone apps for iPhones and Android-based phones.

If you are a smartphone user, take a few minutes to check out these apps and download those you find appropriate for your area. Keep in mind that the afore-mentioned apps are only a sampling of those that are available; search around to find the one with features that work best for you.

Individuals who do not have a smartphone can still access a wealth of valuable disaster-related information and resources via the Internet. The American Red Cross offers tips for preparing home and family, schools and worksites for a variety of possibly emergencies and provides links to a wide variety of maps and weather information in their “Tools and Resources” section that can assist when preparing for or responding to a disaster situation.

Another website with very useful information is the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN). Their “Topic” page contains information about various disaster issues while their “Resources” page offers a catalog of Extension-produced disaster-related educational resources as well as a list of non-Extension resources, with links to federal agencies and national organizations active in disaster situations.

Whether a smartphone or Internet user, take advantage of these resources before disaster knocks at your door.

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