If you’re a resident of Arizona, you likely don’t think often about emergency preparedness like you would if you lived in hurricane, tornado, flood and earthquake zones. Yet you never know when you might lose electricity during a powerful storm. You might even find yourself in an adverse situation while traveling.
Take steps in well in advance to make sure you can stay connected in the event of an emergency.
Prepare for phone charging.
- Purchase external phone chargers and keep them fully charged. Test them to make sure they work.
- Place an extra cord in your car that can plug into the cigarette lighter.
- When an emergency strikes, switch to low power mode, dim the brightness, disable unnecessary notifications, and close all apps.
- Zello is a walkie-talkie app that allows you to share audio messages and photos. It allows you to communicate with others and share your location. The app is free but requires Wi-Fi or network connection.
- FireChat works without data or signal, relying on mesh networks. However, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi need to be turned on for it to work.
- Glympse is a complementary app to Zello and FireChat that offers real-time location sharing.
- Airbnb’s Open Homes connects those in need of shelter with those who want to offer their homes in the case of an emergency.
- Red Cross has a variety of apps, and you should install the ones you find most helpful, including first aid apps for humans and pets.
Bookmarks, contacts and phone settings.
- State emergency management or Department of Public Safety. Download any apps they might have. Follow them on Twitter. Then do the same for county and city/town.
- Local emergency phone numbers. Save to your phone’s contact list
- National Hurricane Center, your local weather source and FEMA. Bookmark these pages for quick retrieval.
- 911. Check online to see if your local 911 call centers can receive texts. Texts take longer to get a response and it’s better to remain waiting online for an operator, but it’s good to know if texting is a backup option.
- Google’s Crisis Maps. Gives useful emergency information and shelter locations.
- CrowdSource Rescue. This site tries to match people in need with people who can help. This site was responsible for rescuing 25,000 people during Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
- Phone settings. Enable your phone’s emergency alerts for extreme threats and severe threats. The government will push these alerts, including evacuation orders.
- Opt-in alerts. Many local and state governments offer an opt-in alert system. Visit their websites to set up these notifications. Text your zip code to 888777 to sign up for text alerts from public safety departments. CodeRED is another system that is used in many areas. Sign up on their website or download the app.
- Google Maps. Download a map of your area on your phone so you can access it offline during an emergency, even when there is no reception. Log into Google Maps and select an Offline Map.
- Waze. This navigational app will help you avoid unexpected road closures or accidents.
When an emergency strikes, you have so many things to consider and decisions to make. Knowing that you have prepared to stay connected in advance can ease the stress of those moments and possibly give you a better outcome. Preparation saves lives.