Prepare for Disasters with these Mobile Apps

Smartphone users are accustomed to texting, emailing, surfing the Web, playing games and running a wide variety of apps with their devices. They may not be aware that there are apps available to help keep them safe during natural disasters and other emergencies. Organizations such as the American Red Cross, the National Weather Service, and The Weather Channel are just a few of the developers offering apps to alert you of pending trouble. Whether you have an iPhone or an Android, you can find an app on this list to help you weather the storm.

NOAA Weather Alerts - Severe Weather. This app from the National Weather Service's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sounds alerts for all kinds of weather events - tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, fires, snow storms, frost advisories, and more. When the NWS issues a weather alert, the app makes a distinct sound. The alert sounds even if the phone is in sleep mode for iPhone and Android.

American Red Cross. The Red Cross covers the spectrum of emergencies with its apps. There are apps for tornadoes; wildfires; earthquakes; hurricanes; and floods. First aid apps provide instructions, videos, and quizzes to help people perform basic first aid on humans and pets during common emergencies. The shelter finder app helps users find open Red Cross shelters after a disaster. The Monster Guard app teaches kids aged 7 to 11 how to prepare for emergencies both at and away from home. The emergency alert apps provide detailed instructions on what to do, even when the device cannot connect to the Internet. They also offer "I'm safe" alerts for family members and advice for building emergency kits. All apps are for both iPhone and Android.

Alert FM. This app sends a unique-sounding alert when the weather service issues a warning for your area. It can bookmark up to five locations. Alerts are provided in both written and spoken word versions, which can be helpful for the visually impaired: for iPhone and Android.

The Weather Channel. The cable TV source for all things weather has a general purpose weather app. In addition to forecasts and necessary weather information during normal times, this app also transmits NWS advisories and warnings. For iPhone and Android.

It comes as news to no one that the weather has grown increasingly volatile in recent years. Heavy snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic and northeast, tornadoes and hail storms in the midwest, dry conditions in the west, and the ever-present threat of hurricanes in the southeast mean that the next weather emergency may be right around the corner. When it comes, these apps will help ensure that you are ready for it.

July 20, 2017
by Anna Lee