Just as you use a smartphone to receive emails and news updates, your disaster preparedness plan can go mobile, too. Your cell phone or tablet may serve as a lifeline or a way to communicate with employees, execute response plans and connect with family members during any stage of a disaster. As most mobile networks often remain active when landlines are down, you may be able to learn more about a situation using cellular data networks or available Wi-Fi hotspots. With the right preparation, mobile technology serves as an effective resource that you can integrate into a disaster preparedness plan to keep recovery efforts moving forward.
How to Incorporate Mobile Devices into a Disaster Preparedness Plan
Sign Up for FEMA Text Messages
Dedicate an emergency preparedness training session at your company to text alerts, particularly if your company issues mobile phones to employees. In addition to providing workers with important numbers to store in their phones, take the time to ensure that all the employees know how to use the text-messaging feature. By bringing the pertinent information to your employees via text message alerts, the information comes directly to them, ensuring that they are better prepared when disaster strikes.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a text-messaging program that provides safety tips about specific types of disasters. In addition, they offer information about shelters and disaster recovery centers. To receive general preparedness tips every month, text PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA).
If you’d like to receive bi-monthly safety tips, text one of the following keywords to 43362 (4FEMA):
- FIRE: For home fires
- WINTER: For extreme cold and winter storms
- BLACKOUT: For power outages
To learn about open shelters in your area after a disaster, text SHELTER and your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA). For information about open Disaster Recovery Centers, text DRC and your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA).
For example, if you live in Seattle, Washington, you’d text “SHELTER 98102” to 43362.
If you’re able to connect to the Internet during a disaster, check out Google Public Alerts. The site provides current alerts issued around the nation, as well as alerts that are specific to your state.
Other websites that you may find helpful include:
Sign Up for Local Alters
Some communities use a service that will call you, send you a text message or send an email free of charge when there is a disaster or emergency in your area. All you have to do is sign up for the service. Check with your city or county’s emergency management office to learn if this service is available and the details about how to sign up.
Download Emergency Preparedness Apps
The Android and iOS markets have a variety of apps dedicated to safety, natural disasters, and emergency preparedness. Notable apps include:
- Red Cross apps: The Red Cross has individual apps for different types of disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfires. They also offer apps about shelter services, as well as ones with first aid tips for humans or pets.
- FEMA app: FEMA has a single mobile app with an interactive disaster kit list, safety tips, and maps with the location of open shelters and Disaster Recovery Centers. Use the app to store information about the emergency meeting locations that you established in a disaster preparedness plan or to upload photos of disasters in your area.
Prepare Your Mobile Devices
Smartphones and tablets are ineffective during a disaster if they don’t have power or get water damage. Consider adding the following to your disaster preparedness kits:
- Backup batteries
- Portable charging devices
- Waterproof cases
- Cell phone signal booster
- A backup cell phone that uses AA or long-lasting batteries
Incorporating the latest technology into your disaster preparedness plan will help mobilize your recovery efforts. Technology is always innovating to and so should your business’ preparedness plan. As the frequency, size, and reach of disasters continue to increase, preparedness is more important than ever. While mobile devices can provide instant information before, during, and after a disaster, keep in mind that they are not a replacement for emergency services. If you have an emergency, please call 9-1-1 for help.
Photo by Microsiervos Geek Crew via CC license.