These tech tips could save your life

As Florida prepares for Hurricane Ian, which is predicted to rapidly strengthen right into a Category 4 “catastrophic” storm earlier than it makes landfall, it is a good reminder to organize for any pure disasters that may hit your group.

Tech might help with that. For instance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency launched its National Risk Index, a free on-line useful resource meant to supply “a transparent, visible information to pure hazard dangers within the United States.”

FEMA says its purpose is to establish and help communities most in danger from extreme climate occasions, resembling floods, wildfires, excessive warmth, drought and greater than a dozen different probably harmful threats.

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Along with interactive net maps, the National Risk Index “prioritizes resilience efforts by offering an at-a-glance view of a number of threat components” to assist communities replace emergency response plans, enhance hazard mitigation plans, allocate sources and extra.

“Climate change is widespread, speedy and intensifying,” says the UN Climate Change Committee, which has dubbed the state of affairs “Code Red for Humanity.”

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Be ready for the worst

In the occasion of a pure catastrophe, your survival plan ought to a minimum of embody your smartphone. It could be a lifeline in an emergency.

However, there are a couple of different issues you need to do beforehand to make sure your telephone is working. These embody backup energy, an out-of-the-box waterproof answer and the power to name for assist – even when there isn’t any mobile community or Wi-Fi connectivity.

Here’s one other know-how that may enable you to put together for a pure catastrophe:

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Essential apps and maps for catastrophe aid

A handful of free emergency preparedness apps might help you within the occasion of a disaster. Make certain you obtain them earlier than a heavy storm in case you are off obligation. The Red Cross gives quite a few apps, together with for locating shelter and first help, what to do in hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires.

Each contains checklists, emergency recommendation (from administer first help and CPR to handle meals and water throughout energy outages), quizzes, join emergency notifications, and extra.

If you might have a wise speaker, you can too allow Red Cross extreme climate alerts on an Amazon Echo machine, e.g.

You also can discover blood donors close by or make an appointment to donate blood. You also can do that on Google Nest audio system or shows by saying “Hey Google, speak to Red Cross Blood Donation.”

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FEMA’s app is the important thing to disasters

Similarly, the official FEMA app, obtainable for each Apple and Android units, contains info for all sorts of disasters, together with receiving real-time alerts from the National Weather Service and the situation of emergency shelters in your space.

The app additionally supplies maps of essential places, tips on formulate your household’s emergency plan, what to pack in an emergency equipment, and options for emergency assembly locations.

Another good one: The aptly named Disaster Alert app and web site gives a real-time map displaying lively (or upcoming) incidents that the PDC DisasterAWARE platform says are “probably hazardous to individuals, property, or belongings.” These embody hurricanes and tropical storms, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and extra.

Speaking of apps, it is a good suggestion to benefit from Google Maps’ offline characteristic, which lets you choose an space (even a whole metropolis) to obtain and think about on your smartphone within the occasion there isn’t any cell service or Wi-Fi. there.

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Call 911 with no plan

Did you understand you’ll be able to nonetheless name 911 from your mobile phone even when you do not have an lively plan?

Since you do not have to pay for mobile service to name 911, it is a good suggestion to maintain an outdated and disabled telephone in your emergency equipment or in your automobile’s glove field. Just ensure it is charged first and maintain it with the suitable charger.

There are a couple of downsides to this plan: A disabled telephone will not ship your location to 911, so you will have to supply that info to the dispatcher your self. Also, the individual on the opposite finish of the road cannot name you again when you get disconnected.

You also can ship 911, maybe if you cannot converse or must be silent, however you will want to join 911 service with your provider first.

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Proactively focus on an emergency plan with family members

Assuming cell service is obtainable, persons are additionally inspired to textual content and e-mail, and to put up notifications of their whereabouts and speedy wants on social media, examine the place native emergency shelters are positioned, and get in contact with those that are in danger to inquire family and pals.

While Apple has introduced help for satellite tv for pc connectivity on its new iPhone 14 household, bear in mind that the service has not but launched.

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Use Wi-Fi for calls

If you might have electrical energy and Wi-Fi however no mobile service, there are apps that mean you can make video and audio requires assist.

Use apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Duo, Viber, TextNow, and Fring to make free WiFi calls even when a mobile community is not obtainable.

All of those apps require you to arrange an account upfront, which might be so simple as signing up for Google Duo with your Gmail deal with or Facebook Messenger with your Facebook ID.

Skype can be free to name one other Skype person and if you should name a landline or cell it is low cost at simply pennies per name.

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Waterproof units are of nice assist

Many smartphones are waterproof or water-proof, which could assist with some pure disasters.

If your present smartphone is not waterproof, think about an identical waterproof case for it, or a sealable and reusable answer just like the Nite Ize RunOff Waterproof Phone Case ($39.99) or Nite Ize RunOff Waterproof Phone Case ($34.99 $).

As a final resort, have some thick Ziploc baggage as a part of your emergency equipment to place your telephone in.

If you’re at present on the lookout for a brand new smartphone, think about one that’s water-proof.

For instance, the most recent Apple iPhone 14, Samsung Galaxy S22, and Google Pixel 6 fashions are all IP68 licensed (the “IP” stands for “Ingress Protection”), that means they’re as much as 5 toes and as much as 5 toes might be submerged in recent water for as much as half-hour, whereas iPhone SE, iPhone X and earlier variations are IP67-rated and waterproof to three toes (as much as half-hour).

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Backup energy is vital

A backup energy answer is crucial in a weather-related emergency.

Even when you’ve got mobile service in your space, chances are you’ll not have energy or entry to a working electrical outlet. And with out energy, your smartphone is as ineffective because the field it got here in.

For instance, Anker’s PowerHouse units are moveable energy turbines that can be utilized to cost or energy just about any machine in an emergency (or when unplugged, resembling when tenting).

They are additionally perfect for these residing in an house the place a fuel generator just isn’t an possibility.

They can energy every little thing from lamps to laptops to small home equipment and medical tools.

With its particular person AC and DC shops, USB-A and automobile outlet, the PowerHouse 200 ($259.99) is your go-to place for charging small units. It gives greater than 200 watts of whole energy, able to charging a MacBook Pro greater than 5 instances, a smartphone a few dozen instances, and powering a mini-fridge for greater than 4 hours.

This portable power bank allows you to charge your devices when the power goes out.

The PowerHouse 545 ($699.99), alternatively, gives greater than 500 watts of energy to cost as much as 11 units concurrently.

It gives two USB-C ports, 4 USB-A ports, two AC outputs, two DC outputs and a automobile socket.

It additionally contains an LED flashlight, LED show and deal with, and might be charged with an non-compulsory solar panel.

Other advisable gear throughout a extreme climate occasion features a hand crank and/or photo voltaic radio and a water-proof flashlight.

This little radio is a must have for weather emergencies.

The American Red Cross Swiss Army Knife Etón FRX3+ Multi-Powered Weather Alert Radio ($59.99) homes an AM/FM (digital radio), all seven National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate band stations, and an alarm operate that broadcasts emergency climate alerts .

While it has an inside lithium-ion battery (2600mAh), you can too use the hand crank and small solar panel to maintain it charged in emergencies.

The FRX3+ additionally encompasses a USB port for charging a smartphone, an auxiliary enter, an LED flashlight, a crimson LED flashing gentle for emergencies, an alarm clock, a headphone jack and extra.

More info on Hurricane Ian:

Follow Marc on Twitter for his Tech Tip of the Day posts: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast. The views and opinions expressed on this column are these of the creator and don’t essentially mirror these of USA TODAY.

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