Tips to Stay Connected During a Storm
A natural disaster or extreme weather can disrupt communication channels. In such a chaotic situation, your mobile phones and tablets will be essential to keeping in touch with family and staying updated on response and recovery efforts. Here are a few things you can do ahead of the storm to make sure you can stay informed and connected.
HOW TO STAY INFORMED OF EMERGENCY UPDATES DURING A STORM
Download emergency service apps.
Emergency service apps give you access to important resources. The Hurricane Disaster App from the American Red Cross allows you to monitor hurricane conditions in your local area, throughout the storm track, and let others know you are safe even if the power is out. It’s free and available in the App Store or on Google Play. The FEMA mobile app allows you to get real-time alerts for up to five locations nationwide, locate emergency shelters, and connect with FEMA to register for disaster assistance online. It’s also free for Apple and Android devices.
Keep your devices charged.
Ensure all devices and backup chargers plugged in as long as you have power. If you’re preparing to evacuate, ensure your devices are 100% charged before you leave. When you’re on the road, use mobile chargers in the care and only use your cell phone only for emergency calls or updates. Get more tips on prepping your mobile devices here.
Find alternate ways to receive emergency notifications.
If you want to save your mobile phone battery on the road, use your car radio. You can find your local station that’s broadcasting weather alerts and preset it on your vehicle ahead of time. Here’s a search tool to find the best station for you.
Purchase an emergency weather radio with hand crank power.
If all other technology fails, a hand crank power radio can be an excellent last resort to stay connected during a storm. You will ensure that you’re able to receive all weather updates and news, and some new models can even charge your devices.
HOW TO HELP FAMILY STAY CONNECTED DURING A STORM
Create a texting phone tree.
Organize a network of contacts so you can reach them quickly. In the aftermath of extreme weather or a natural disaster, texting may be the only available form of communication. Every family member should also carry contact cards in the event that they need to rely on someone else’s device to get in touch.
Get a family GPS app.
Most of your family members carry a personal tracking device in the form of their smartphone. An app like Life360 can show you where they are at any given time on a map. The family GPS tracking system should help you find your loved ones, get safety alerts to them or call for help with the tap of a button. Free for iOS or Android.
Use a social network.
Create a private “family only” page on Facebook so your extended family can check on your status even if their calls won’t go through. You may still be able to access social or other apps even when call services aren’t working. It’s helpful to communicate with family nearby and to let far away family know that you’re safe.
Help family stay in touch in case of emergency.
If you have an iPhone, turn on the Find My iPhone feature under iCloud settings. Then consider giving someone else your AppleID, and they'll be able to log in and get an idea of where you are. A similar thing can be done with Android’s “Find My Device” app.
The best time to set up a communication plan for an emergency is before you need one. With the threat of severe weather, make sure all family members know how to stay connected during a storm are prepared to get in touch when needed.