You rely on your mobile to keep in touch with your family, friends, and acquaintances with the click of a button. However, “the point of need” can also imply to when disaster strikes and threatens to destroy your community.
Learning about something at the point of need implies that you acquire information that is relevant to you at that time, which improves retention, ensures up-to-date delivery of information, saves costs and time, and increases collaboration and sense of community. Indeed, just as you rely on your mobile phone to receive news updates, or field engineers and sales road warriors rely on quick access to learning materials on the internet when faced with a problem in the field, your disaster preparedness plan can also go mobile.
Your smartphone or tablet may serve as a lifeline or medium to communicate with colleagues, connect with family members, or execute response plans during any stage of a disaster. Considering that most mobile networks often stay active even when landlines are down, you may be able to acquire information and learn more about a situation using available Wi-Fi hotspots or just the cellular data networks.
With proper preparation, mobile technology has proven to be an effective resource that anyone can integrate into their disaster preparedness plan to ensure the progress of recovery efforts.
So, how do you incorporate your mobile device into a disaster preparedness plan?
1. Install emergency preparedness apps
It is important to always store some important emergency numbers in your mobile phone, but with smartphones and mobile apps, you can do a lot more to stay connected and informed. Consider installing:
- The FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) app, which contains disaster safety tips, emergency meeting location information, an interactive emergency kit list, and a map with open shelters and FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers.
- Red Cross apps focused on natural disasters, including floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Red Cross also has apps that provide first aid tips and list locations for open shelters.
- Weather apps that provide weather maps for your area, like The Weather Channel app or MyRadar app.
2. Go online
You can also visit Google Public Alerts online to access current alerts issues around the country, as well as disaster alerts specific to your state. Other websites that may offer helpful information include:
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- National Weather Service
- National Hurricane Center
- American Red Cross Safe and Well
3. Sign up for local alerts
There are some communities that allow locals to sign up to a service that calls you, sends you a text message, or sends you an email - without any charges imposed - when there is an emergency or disaster in your area. Simply check with your county or city’s emergency management office to find out if this service is available in your area, and the details about how to sign up.
4. Prepare your mobile device and backup in the cloud
Your smartphone or tablet won’t be of any help during an emergency if it runs out of power or gets water damage. So, consider getting yourself a disaster preparedness kit comprising:
- Waterproof cases
- Backup batteries
- Portable charging devices
- Cell phone signal booster
- A backup cell phone
Since disaster can strike anytime, ensure that you have digital backups of your important documents, including your ID, insurance information, etc. and store them on a cloud service, like Google Drive. Also take as many pictures of your home as possible to help smooth the recovery process when dealing with insurance adjusters,
Incorporating up-to-date technology into your disaster preparedness plan is a great way to help mobilize your recovery efforts. Technology is constantly innovating and changing, and so should your emergency preparedness plan. And while your smartphone or tablet can provide instant information before, during, and after an emergency, you should keep in mind that mobile devices are not a replacement for emergency services.
So, send a text message to friends and family to let them know you’re okay, or post a blank message on your Facebook wall to alert people that you are alright. Avoid calling to save battery life, and get help from disaster management bodies in your area.