Be prepared everywhere all the time…here's how


In a world where the number of disasters and tragedies seem to be on the increase, the Boy Scout and Girl Scout mottos "Be prepared!"  are shining beacons for meeting new challenges, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). They point to cell phone apps as a way to "be prepared" where ever you are.

"It’s important to be prepared no matter where we are," says Thomas Francisco from GovDelivery, a FEMA contractor. "These FREE apps are a great tool to have in your preparedness arsenal. While your battery might not last through the night, with the help of some of these apps, you or a loved one likely will." 

The apps he lists include everything from preparedness planners, health and first aid Information, weather, document storage, radio and even a first aid app for your pet! 

American Red Cross has multiple apps designed to get information for specific disaster types and emergency scenarios. From floods, to hurricanes, wildfires, general first aid and pets, the Red Cross has provided multiple offline capable apps to assist you in a time of need.

American Red Cross First Aid saved lives during the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and offers up-to-date, just-in-time first aid training and information (including instructional videos) which are stored on the phone and accessible when out of cell phone range. (iPhone and Android)

Disaster Alert provides real-time listing and map of active disasters occurring around the globe. (iPhone and Android)

Dropbox is a cloud storage service that offers a mobile app. It is a free service that lets you access your photos, docs, and videos from anywhere, including via the mobile app, and share them easily. This is useful for storing digital copies of important documents in the case of home fires, burglary or natural disasters.

Emergency Radio provides access to real-time information via police and fire scanners as well as maps where relevant events are occurring. (iPhone and Android)

FEMA App includes preparedness information for different types of disasters, an interactive checklist for emergency kits, information on how to stay safe and recover after a disaster, Recovery Center and Shelter maps, and more. (AndroidiPhone and Blackberry)

Flashlight-4 uses the iPhone white screen as a flashlight. This app jumped to 3rd from 65th for free apps in the app store download rankings following the recent earthquake off the east coast of Japan. See also Tiny Flashlight (Android)

Google Earth mobile allows user to view the same 3D imagery and terrain as the desktop version. Find current location with the touch of a button; pan, zoom, and tilt view. Search for cities, places, and businesses around the world and view layers of geographic information. User can also search by voice. (iPhone and Android)

GPS Tuner aggregates a number of maps that then can give on-road or off-road directions that may be useful during disasters when typical navigation markers have been destroyed. Health Outbreaks Near Me was developed by a surveillance team from MIT and Children’s Hospital in Boston in order to try to gain more current information on the H1N1 outbreak at the time. Their app and website aggregate a range of data sources, including a user-generated crowd-sourcing feature, to track outbreaks. User can search for outbreaks based on location or disease. (iPhone and Android)

NIMS ICS Guide is an interactive guide that allows for customized on-scene contact information and provides detailed checklists. The content is all-hazards, non-jurisdictional and discipline-specific, and includes responsibilities and rules for applying the Incident Command System (ICS).

Psychological First Aid (PFA) Tutorial App provides a just-in-time review for those who have previously received training to provide PFA. The tutorial describes the four core actions of PFA providers, reviews ways to engage with disaster survivors, lists common reactions to traumatic events, and provides an opportunity to check understanding in practice scenarios.  

PTSD Coach app can help individuals learn about and manage symptoms that commonly occur after trauma. Together with professional medical treatment, PTSD Coach provides dependable resources. If you have, or think you might have PTSD, this app is for you. Family and friends can also learn from this app. (iPhone and Android)

WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders) is a mobile application designed to assist first responders in hazardous material incidents.  The WISER application extracts content from TOXNET’s Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB), an authoritative, peer-reviewed information resource maintained by the National Library of Medicine. (AndroidiPhone and iPad)

ReadyNova was developed to assist residents and business owners in developing a Family Emergency Plan or a Business Emergency Plan and follows basic and accepted emergency management practices. Both the Family Emergency Planner and the Business Emergency Planner provide an easy to use tool in developing your emergency plan. (Android and iPhone)

If you know of any other free apps that should be on everyone's radar, please share them below.



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