Hurricane Irma: Technology Tools to Stay Safe and Informed

Hurricane Irma

This year’s hurricane season has been particularly strong due to warmer than average water temperatures. The effects of Hurricane Harvey have left the city of Houston and Corpus Christi in shambles. Another powerful storm, hurricane Irma, has ravaged through the Caribbean and is expected to make landfall in Florida and other southern states. Furthermore, Hurricane Irma is being followed by two more storm systems. It is important to take proper precautions to stay safe during and after the coming storms. Here are some useful tools and apps that you can access through your smartphone that will help you in the event of an emergency.

Google Crisis Response Services

Google has many services dedicated to providing critical information during natural disasters and humanitarian crisis. One of those services is Google’s Crisis Map. The Google Crisis Map is a collection of national and regional scale hazards overlayed on Google Maps. It provides information such as road closures, emergency resources and alerts regarding natural and man made hazards.

Google Crisis Map Hurricane Irma

Google Crisis Map trackingHurricane Irma.

Social Media

In the past years, social media has evolved to the point where it has become an asset to crisis management and disseminating information. Twitter is a valuable to stay informed through multiple media outlets. Follow the National Weather Service(NWS), your local and state government accounts to stay notified of any developments. Another web tool that can come in handy is Facebook’s Safety Check. Safety Check keeps you informed about ongoing crisis, let your friends and family know your safe, and help others by sharing information.

Facebook Safety Check

Facebook Safety Check

Mobile Apps

There are many apps you can install on your smartphone that are extremely useful during natural incidents. Here are four apps available free of charge for both iOS and Android.

First Aid App: The First Aid app by The Red Cross provides information and instructions on the treatment of injuries. The app gives step by step instruction and embedded videos making its directions easy to follow. It also contains guides for preparing against a variety of natural disasters.

FEMA App: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) app provides disaster alerts for events in the U.S. It also contains a vast amount of crisis management resources. You can get information on over 20 types of disaster scenarios and how to prepare for them. The FEMA app can also help you locate open shelters and where to contact FEMA agents.

ICE Standard: The ICE Standard app developed by the About the Kids Foundation is an emergency card app that lists your medical history, emergency contact, insurance details, blood type, and other relevant information. In the event of an emergency, the time saved by having all your medical information at hand can make the difference.

Zello walkie-talkie: Zello is a walkie-talkie app that allows you to create groups and hold simultaneous conversasions with its members. Furthermore, you can create your own groups in order to stay in contact with family and friends. Many emergency response channels have been set up in the wake of hurricane Irma in to provide information and assistance. The app requires mobile data or Wi-fi
to work.

Maintaining a line of communication is very important. Power outages during storms and natural disasters are common and can be prolonged. Be sure to have your mobile devices charged and if possible acquire an external battery. Furthermore, follow the directions of your local and state government. Evacuations can be a pain, but it’s better to be prepared than to be caught off guard. Above all else, stay safe.

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