During a state of emergency — a situation which allows a government to assume exceptional powers and create policies for the safety and protection of its citizens — having access to information, professional support and an immediate response could save your life.
We often associate states of emergency with natural disasters, but threats to national security, financial crises and epidemics can also qualify.
Here are the four essential apps you need to have in the case of a state of emergency, per USA.gov, plus a few honorable mentions. All are available for Android and iOS devices, except for the HUD Resource Locator.
1. Federal Emergency Management System (FEMA)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) app provides thorough, real-time alerts covering a large number of disasters. In an emergency, FEMA’s app provides accurate real-time information.
Besides providing weather-related alerts for any location entered, this app includes emergency notices for “evacuations, civil danger, child abductions, hazardous materials, nuclear power plants, radiological hazards, 911 phone outages, riots, explosions, and more,” according to Lifewire. It is also a handy disaster preparedness resource which provides helpful tips and guidelines.
2. Emergency! By the American Red Cross
Available in English and Spanish (and designed with accessibility in mind), the Emergency! by the Red Cross app lets you customize 40 different weather alerts with notifications. The app provides step-by-step preparedness information and shelter locations with an interactive map option.
Always informative, the Emergency! app provides background on any given emergency from a climate change viewpoint as well. The American Red Cross also offers specific Hurricane, Tornado and Earthquake apps, as well as First Aid, Animal First Aid and Blood Donor apps.
3. HUD Resource Locator
The HUD Resource Locator was app created by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency (HUD) to provide information about HUD’s disaster programs and contacts of housing providers.
During an emergency, this app provides details on what disaster assistance HUD is providing. Resources regarding topics like disaster relief options for homeowners, emergency preparedness assistance and housing counselling are also provided. However, the HUD Resource Locator app is only available to iOS users.
The FoodKeeper app — developed by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, along with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute — provides a wealth of food and beverage storage information to help you maximize the freshness and quality of your food. Information about storing the right survival food in the correct manner should provide you with peace of mind in knowing you (and your loved ones) will have food security during a potential state of emergency.
The four apps listed above are all government-sponsored disaster or emergency resources. But there are a lot of great independent apps that can help you during a state of emergency, too.
The FEMA and Emergency! apps should give you all the weather updates and information you require during a state of emergency, but sometimes usability plays a big role in what apps a person will use. The AccuWeather app is an outstanding all-purpose app, according to Lifewire. Aside from a regularly updated weather news feed and a detailed layered radar map, the app allows you to monitor more than one location at a time — and view hourly and extended forecasts.
Finally, Nextdoor is a neighborhood social network app that is used to connect to your immediate community. Nextdoor is a great way to warn your neighbors about anything from suspicious activities and theft to missing animals. The app can also be used as an emergency broadcast alert. Because it is a “hyperlocal” app, users can send messages about emergency updates, shelter and gathering locations that are of particular importance to members of their immediate community.
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